Sally Cookson is a brave director and one who has said that she doesn’t think “anything is impossible to put on stage.” If you enjoyed her staging of Jane Eyre which was shown for free as part of the #NationalTheatreAtHome season you will also enjoy this co-production between Bristol Old Vic and London’s Old Vic. Cookson stages Patrick Ness’s tale of death and grief with customary verve and also real sensitivity. The story of Conor, a 12 year old boy whose mother is dying and who is bullied at school, this fills like the perfect theatrical offering for a nation whose death toll still rises.
‘Stories are wild creatures, the monster said. When you let them loose, who knows what havoc they might wreak?’ Thirteen-year-old Conor and his mum have managed just fine since his dad moved to America. But now his mum’s very sick and she’s not getting any better. His grandmother won’t stop interfering and the kids at school won’t look him in the eye. Then, one night, at seven minutes past midnight, Conor is woken by something at his window. A monster has come walking. It’s come to tell Conor tales from when it walked before. And when it’s finished, Conor must tell his own story and face his deepest fears. On publication, A Monster Calls became a bestseller with children and adults alike with its dazzling insight into love, loss and healing. It garnered huge critical acclaim, including an unprecedented double win of the Carnegie and Greenaway Medals for outstanding children’s literature and illustration.