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A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness is one of my favourite books, so when I received an invitation to the Everyman Theatre to watch a stage adaptation, I eagerly accepted! Witnessing a novel being brought to life on stage can be a truly transformative experience. I had also seen the film in the cinema back in 2016. I remember it being a significant release, with its enchanting CGI scenes and moving story. Therefore, this theatre production held a lot of excitement for me.

The story revolves around Conor, a 13-year-old boy who is feeling isolated and lonely. He is facing bullying at school and struggling to come to terms with his mother’s battle with cancer. In addition, his relationship with his grandmother is strained, and he feels disconnected from his father. Conor is dealing with a lot of challenges. When a monster resembling a yew tree visits Conor at seven minutes past midnight, it disrupts his life by sharing three stories with him, one each night. On the fourth night, Conor must share a true tale with the monster.

As the book was aimed at young adults, I felt it was perfect for the YEP Actors 18-25 Company, under the direction of Nathan Crossan-Smith, to stage this production.

Finn Kearns portrayed Conor, while Kieran Gregory took on the role of Harry, the bully. Their boundless energy captivates the audience from start to finish. Kearns portrayal is sincere, taking us along on his journey with every word. You can truly feel the ups and downs of emotions that a young person would experience, and he gave an outstanding performance, especially considering the sensitive nature of the subject matter.

Indeed, the entire cast was outstanding, comprising a fantastic group of young performers. Niamh Parrington and Moli Wyn portrayed Conor’s grandma and mother brilliantly, delivering emotive performances. An essential element of the play is getting the monster portrayal right, which could easily have gone awry. However, the innovative use of ropes and pipes, along with performers altering their voices through a microphone to deepen them, effectively brought the monster to life in a unique and compelling way.

The experience I had last night gives just a glimpse of what to expect from the upcoming generation of actors, creative and technical teams. It has left me feeling extremely excited about the future of live theatre! Brace yourself for tears!