A romantic, gothic and musical love story, the Bristol Old Vic’s award-winning production The Grinning Man, based on a classic Victor Hugo (Les Misérables) novel, continues to put a smile on every face in the West End.

Drawing audiences into its fantastical world – with a dark heart – The Grinning Man is based on Hugo’s book The Man Who Laughs, telling the dark tale of a strange new act with a terrible secret.

One day, a strange new act arrives at the fairground. At first paraded as a freak, and then celebrated as a star, can he find true love in the sightless girl, the only person who can see him for what he is? Helped by an old man, a lone wolf and a blind girl, his story must be told.

Original cast member Louis Maskell, playing the titular role of the disfigured Grinpayne, and Julian Bleach, who plays the vengeful and deceptive clown Barkilphedro, return to lead the West End transfer. Sean Kingsley and Ewan Black, who previously co-starred in the award-winning Bristol Old Vic production of the musical, have been confirmed to play Ursus and Trelaw in the West End premiere. Sanne den Besten, new to the cast, plays Dea.

The Grinning Man was first brought to life by Kneehigh writer Carl Grose, with a beautiful score by Tim Phillips and Marc Teitler. The show reunited director Tom Morris with two puppeteers who began their careers inside Joe and Topthorn in the original production of War Horse – Finn Caldwell and Toby Olié – and first opened as the climax of Bristol Old Vic’s 250th anniversary programme, receiving critical acclaim.

The show is macabre, magical and visually astonishing; Jon Bausor won the UK Theatre Award for Best Design for his work on The Grinning Man. The show plays in a specially configured space in Trafalgar Studios.

This ultimately elating love story is a distinctive delight, barging through the gateway carved by the Nineties cult hit Shockheaded Peter with the full-blooded emotion of Les Misérables. Go and be seduced by the darkness.


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