The Hartlepool Monkey

Monday 31 July 2017


The legend of a monkey hanged as a French spy is brought to life through clever puppetry in a timely tale exploring xenophobia - at Stratford Circus Arts Centre and on UK tour.
The Hartlepool Monkey at Stratford Circus Arts Centre

Image: Stratford Circus Arts Centre

Gyre & Gimble, the puppeteers who brought War Horse to life and who co-designed the Lorax for the Old Vic production, introduce Napoleon, the anarchic chimpanzee who is put on trial on suspicion of being a French spy.

'The Hartlepool Monkey' will play at Stratford Circus Arts centre in London from 19 to 30 September and will be touring the UK until 18 November.


A French ship runs aground off the coast of England.

Only a cabin girl and the ship's mascot, a chimpanzee, survive and make it to shore.

But the townsfolk mistake the monkey, in its military uniform, for a spy, and condemn him to a life-or-death trial .... what will the verdict be - and can the local children save the day?

The legend of The Hartlepool Monkey has survived the test of time, capturing the imagination of people of all ages for over 200 years, and landing here, on the shores of the 21st century, more relevant than ever.

A boisterous crew tell this timely tale through spirited sea shanties and mischievous puppetry from Gyre & Gimble, original puppeteers on War Horse and the team behind Running Wild.

Gyre & Gimble was founded by Finn Caldwell and Toby Olié, who met on War Horse and went on to become associate puppetry directors of the show.

They place puppetry at the heart of storytelling, creating compelling characters to lead audiences through fantastical stories and expand expectations of what puppetry is capable of.

Following War Horse, they co-directed The Elephantom, which transferred to the West End, and have since created puppetry for Michael Morpurgo's Running Wild, new musical The Grinning Man, and Dr Seuss's The Lorax which returns to the Old Vic in October.

Toby Olié and Finn Caldwell said ...

"We're very excited to be bringing this story to audiences of all ages, all over the UK.

Initially attracted to the tale of The Hartlepool Monkey as it placed an animal at the centre of the narrative, we've since become excited about the myth from 19th Century being able to connect to the world today, in particular recent issues of insularity, xenophobia and inclusion.

Our chimp we've created promises to be a striking new style of puppet for us and we're assembling a multi-talented cast to bring this playful, anarchic and touching tale to life.”

The show is presented by Fuel in association with Stratford Circus Arts Centre.


To be announced


Director: Finn Caldwell and Toby Olié of Gyre & Gimble

Designer: Samuel Wyer

Lighting: Matt Daw

Sound: Alma Kelliher

Puppetry designed by: Finn Caldwell and Toby Olié

Puppetry fabricated by: Stitches and Glue Ltd


Stratford Circus Arts Centre

Theatre Square


London E15 1BX


19 to 30 September 2017

Tue 19, Tue 26, Thu 28 at 7pm

Sat 23 & 30 at 2pm

Running time: 80 mins

Suitable for ages 10+


£8 to £10

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Gyre & Gimble

Stratford Circus Arts Centre

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