Enter a fairytale world with giant trolls and monsters!

Peer Gynt by Gruffdog Theatre
Peer Gynt by Gruffdog Theatre

A famous story based on Norwegian folklore is being brought to the stage by a new young theatre company.

Director Pete Sayer said they chose the story because it is the 150th anniversary of its publication.

He added: “It’s a Norwegian poetic epic that follows the life of a young man who lives in poverty and dreams of becoming rich.

“On his travels, he encounters trolls and monsters and people from all different walks of life. We follow him from youth to death.”

Pete added: “It’s funny for the first half but moving would be the best way to describe it.

“I don’t think you’d leave feeling sad but possibly uplifted by someone’s life.”

The show involves lots of physical theatre, music and puppetry.

One puppet of a troll is more than six feet tall, with just the actor’s head showing above a huge puppet more than six feet wide.

The troll’s arms are moved by two other actors.

Pete said: “It’s our third play. What attracted us to it is that it’s a play that gives us the chance to put a bit of magic on stage. It’s also something traditionally difficult to stage.”

A few members of the cast already have the right skills, said Pete. “Some of the actors we’ve worked with before and we’ve always used puppets. But for a lot of them, it’s a new skill.

“When we auditioned, we had objects and props in the room. We asked the actors to tell stories with them.

“They coped really well. Everyone loves puppetry and having a go at it.”

Another life-sized puppet of a child is also operated by three actors.

Pete said: “We had to go and buy children’s clothes for it! It felt a bit surreal.”

That’s all meant quite a big touring cast of 10 from such a small company, plus another 10 in the creative team. Nonetheless, all the actors are playing multiple characters.

Pete said: “It’s set to original music. We’ve ripped of elements off the Grieg music as it’s so famous and people love it.”

Gruffdog was set up by former Oxford university students who shared an enthusiasm for drama and decided to have a go.

Pete said he loves the magic that theatre can bring to an audience, more than any other medium.

The show is coming to Sheffield with the help of EnableUs.

It’s a project established at the University of Sheffield’s performance venues, giving city audiences access to see work by new and innovative arts companies without having to travel to Manchester, Leeds or elsewhere.

Pete said: “We’d like this to be the beginning. We’re aiming to create something magical and beautiful.”

He added: “People should come to see this show because it is a chance to escape into a fairytale world with monsters and trolls and experience something different.”

Look out for the giant troll in Sheffield when the show is on, because the team are taking it on walkabout.

Peer Gynt, Underground, Buxton, July 10-12 and University Drama Studio, July 20 to 21

Gruffdog Theatre