A Monster Calls at The Lowry Manchester Review

25-29 February 2020

Reviewed by Lucy Gwilliam

Well, what can I say about this adaptation of Patrick Ness’s devastating novel of the same name, other than it was absolutely phenomenal. I have seen the film version of the play but honestly, I wasn’t that moved with it- I think I actually fell to sleep. I entered the theatre with an open mind after a long, hard day at work, but I was taken a back at the skill and technicality involved in making this play a huge success. It definitely caught my attention and made sure I was fully engaged throughout. 

The story of A Monster Calls focuses on Connor, a 13-year-old boy, who is experiencing the trauma of having his mum seriously ill with cancer. His fears surrounding the situation manifest when no one will discuss the matter with him. The confused boy is then visited by a mysterious and ancient yew tree one night, this particular yew tree has lived for thousands of years in his garden and begins to tell Connor set of unpleasant tales, which will consequently lead him to the truth of his situation. 

Directed by Sally Cookson, this show is truly captivating. I was particularly impressed with the set designed and the simple use of props to create such a moving and effective performance. My favourite part of the set design was the way they created the yew tree from rope to represent the trunk and branches, in addition to the performance of Keith Gilmore as the monster from the yew tree, who was just outstanding. His whole performance and energy was just mesmerising and I couldn’t take my eyes off him. He definitely added the wow factor to the performance. 

We found the acting and storyline to be very good overall and there was not a moment that I felt like I wanted it to end. It was excellently cast and the talent of the main characters Ammar Duffus (Connor) and Maria Omakinwa (Connor’s mum) was of such a high standard. Maria sung at one point during the show and my husband and I were blown away. Her voice was beautiful. 

Another plus point of the show was the use of the music and sound effects. There were musicians located on stage above the actors, in view of the audience. The music was haunting and helped to set the scene and engross the audience. We noticed that the musicians were making sound effects with their voices, this was very effective and sounded great.

I had read previous reviews of the show and had an insight that it would be a good evening out but I wasn’t expecting it to be as good as it was. 

The show lasted for 2 1/2 hours which included a 20 minute interval. 

Overall, I was very impressed with the quality of the play and we had an amazing experience. The audience was predominantly populated by children and teenagers. We assumed they were drama groups and schools. I was surprised by how well they all responded to the show, being so young, but they were thoroughly enjoying it and the whole audience gave a standing ovation at the end.

Rating: 5/5

Tickets cost from £16.50 (booking fees may apply).

A Monster Calls is at The Lowry in Manchester from 25-29 February 2020, for more information or to book tickets visit or call the box office on 0843 208 6000.

The Lowry, Pier 8, Salford Quays, Manchester, M50 3AZ | 0843 208 6000

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