Review: The Grinning Man at Trafalgar Studios, London

I had heard about The Grinning Man, but it wasn’t until I saw a YouTube video praising the musical that I decided to see it. Amy Lovatt, the YouTuber in question, spoke about it so passionately that I thought ‘why not give it a shot?.’

The Grinning Man was fantastic.

I went in with no expectations, which I felt was the best way to see it. I had heard nothing about the musical, only that the score was very good, and that it was supposedly robbed of an Olivier nomination. Having now seen it, I wholeheartedly agree. While the score was not one I feel I will be listening to over and over, it was quick, it was funny and the songs worked really well.

The cast are absolutely astounding. The humour and emotion are evident in every performance, and I have never been so captivated by every single cast member before. In ensemble scenes I almost didn’t know where to look, as everyone was so animated and easy to watch. Louis Maskell as Grinpayne and Julian Bleach as Barkilphedro especially shine, and make you love-or hate-them!

Overall, the real star of this musical is the puppetry. The team behind War Horse are involved in the amazing puppets used in the production and it shows. The puppets are so lifelike, they almost seem to breathe. The lady next to me actually remarked that she forgot they were puppets!

In conclusion, The Grinning Man is a tragic tale full of frights, humour and emotion, and it is a shame that it is closing next month. Five stars.

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