1 March 2024

A Monster Calls – Joint senior production

Strange tales and monsters in the dark haunt a young boy – of course, it’s Patrick Ness’ A Monster Calls and this year’s joint senior production at Abingdon School.

Peony (U6D), who played the protagonist’s mother in the piece, shared her experience, saying: ‘From September 2023 to February 2024, I was lucky enough to be a part of the joint Abingdon and St Helen’s senior production of A Monster Calls, directed by the incredible Lara Sharman. Adapted from Patrick Ness’ book, the play follows the journey of 13-year-old Conor and his struggles with bullying at school and coming to terms with his mother’s illness. Themes of love, loss and reflection are central to the piece, to explore the ways in which we as individuals process emotions and experiences differently.

‘When approaching the role of “Mum/Bea”, I wanted to portray her health journey with cancer with sensitivity and honesty. As well as this, it was important for me to bring the character’s spirit and personality to life and to not let her illness be sole focus of my characterisation. Research into the symptoms of pancreatic cancer, chemotherapy side effects, and watching online interviews with terminally ill patients gave me a stronger understanding of Bea’s physical and psychological effects she experiences throughout the piece. This research helped me greatly in rehearsals, to inform my physical and vocal skills development as the play progresses.

‘Throughout the whole process, the cast was so committed, enthusiastic and attentive, but most of all, supportive of each other, giving us the confidence to tackle this complex piece of theatre. I thoroughly enjoyed working with Mrs Sharman – her creativity, attention to detail and encouragement made the whole process such a positive experience for me.

‘A massive thank you to our choreographer, Selina Marsh, who helped us to develop our skills of using physical theatre, with such motivation and confidence in us. The play could not have been done without the phenomenal support of the lighting and set design (Nick Lloyd-White), the sound design (Josh Ramli-Davies), the animation and projections (Michael Bicarregui and Cerys Jackson), costume design (Katarina Hutton) and the backstage crew to ensure the smooth running of the show.

‘It was such a poignant and fulfilling experience for me and the most dynamic and moving piece of theatre I have ever been a part of – an experience that I will treasure forever.’

Share this article:

Copy link icon Link copied! Twitter icon Facebook icon LinkedIn icon