Bristol Old Vic brings Stephen Collins “The Gigantic Beard That Was Evil” to the stage in world premiere

The Gignatic Beard That Was Evil - Stage Play


The award-winning Bristol Old Vic Young Company will present the world premiere of Stephen Collins‘ best-selling graphic novel The Gigantic Beard That Was Evil in January.

“Beneath the skin of everything is something nobody can know
The job of the skin is to keep it all in and never let anything show”

Directed by former JMK Assistant Director Bursary recipient and Made in Bristol graduate, Stephanie Kempson, who previously worked at Bristol Old Vic as Assistant Director to Sally Cookson on Jane Eyre, this world premiere, designed by Hannah Wolfe, uses music and ensemble theatre to tell a fairy tale for our time.

Verity Standen, celebrated composer at the helm of smash hits Mmm Hmmm and Hug, provides her usual blend of ingenious and thrilling atmospheric music for the production – from the Bangles to original compositions, Verity has created a soundscape that captures the melancholic grey-scale of the graphic novel on which is this production is based.

“I for one am very excited to see what they will do with it,” says Stephen, “and the trailer looks great (just check out the music).”



Every day, Dave goes to work in his calm, safe office. In the evening, he listens to the Bangles’ Eternal Flame on repeat and, to keep a lid on untidy dreams, he sits and sketches the neat people on his tidy street.

One day, Dave’s hairless face sprouts a beard so big that it causes a national crisis. Nobody can tell what has caused this beard-outbreak, but when chaotic untidiness sweeps the island of Here, everybody begins to realise that the beard, and Dave, must go…

The Gigantic Beard That Was Evil, published by Cape in 2013, was the first book by cartoonist and illustrator Stephen and was praised by the likes of Raymond Briggs and described as ‘a future classic’ by the Observer. It became the first graphic novel to be shortlisted for Waterstone’s Book of the Year and won the Edinburgh Festival’s inaugural 9th Art Award. Stephen previously won the Jonathan Cape/Observer Graphic Short Story Prize and his work has appeared in many publications worldwide, and he contributes regular comics to the Guardian Weekend and Prospect magazine.

Bristol Old Vic Young Company began life in 1994, when actors Heather Williams (later to become Founder and Director of Myrtle Theatre Company) and Sally Cookson (who went on to direct Jane Eyre, Treasure Island, We’re Going on a Bear Hunt and many more) decided to reinstate the ‘Youth Theatre’ which had previously lost funding. It began with a 150-strong group of 5-21 year olds.

Twenty years later,Bristol Old Vic Young Company is home to over 350 young people from all across the city. From inspiring weekly sessions to full-scale performances, it works with young people aged 7-25 years old who are passionate about theatre.

“We’re very excited to kick off our Young Company 2015 season with a world premiere,” commented Sian Henderson, Young Company Producer. “Our Young Company are an exceptionally creative group of 11-25 year olds and the cast are incredibly excited to get their teeth into Stephen’s fantastic, funny and poignant graphic novel.”

• The Gigantic Beard That Was Evil 7th – 10th January 2015 Bristol Old Vic Studio 7.30pm, 2.30pm (Saturday matinee) £12/£8 (plus booking fee). Box Office: 0117 987 7877 |

Categories: British Comics, British Comics - Graphic Novels, downthetubes Comics News, Events

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  1. Gigantic Beard That Was Evil: Production Photos Released

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