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Stranger Things: The First Shadow review | A marvel of stage brilliance and technical genius

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Embark on an electrifying journey into the heart of Hawkins' supernatural mysteries with Stranger Things: The First Shadow, at London's Phoenix Theatre. This enthralling prequel not only captivates die-hard fans of the Netflix phenomenon but also beckons newcomers into a realm of technical marvel and gripping storytelling. The stage comes alive with an exceptional cast, dynamic lighting, and transformative set design, transporting the audience seamlessly between worlds. In this review, we delve into the intricacies of the production, from its stellar performances to the mesmerizing effects, unravelling the magic that makes "The First Shadow" an unparalleled spectacle in the world of theatre.

What is Stranger Things: The First Shadow about?

Stranger Things: The First Shadow serves as an enthralling prelude to the renowned Netflix series, delving into the backstory of Hawkins' supernatural phenomena. Unfolding well before the familiar events, the plot follows a group of school kids thrust into the mysterious realm of the Upside Down.

Stranger Things: The First Shadow | Cast, creative team, and set

Stranger Things: The First Shadow cast

Stranger Things: The First Shadow features an exceptional cast, with Louis McCartney as the enigmatic Henry Creel, Ella Karuna Williams as Patty, and Isabella Pappas delivering a fiery portrayal of Joyce. The ensemble's performances bring a rich layer of authenticity and depth to the characters, elevating the overall immersive experience for the audience.

Stranger Things: The First Shadow cast

Stranger Things: The First Shadow cast

Set and lighting

Jon Clark's atmospheric lighting, oscillating between sinister and bright, coupled with Miriam Beuther's nimble set transformations, transports the audience seamlessly between diverse settings – from a high school to a bar and the Creels’ mysterious house. The high-calibre effects are so seamlessly integrated that one is left in awe of the craftsmanship involved.

Stranger Things: The First Shadow

The creative team

The performance unfolds with a dynamic blend of speed, action, and grandiosity, showcasing a series of stunning theatrical maneuvers skillfully orchestrated by co-directors Stephen Daldry and Justin Martin. Within moments, the familiar high-school hallways and toilets seamlessly morph into captivating alternate realms, a testament to Miriam Buether's adept set design. Rapid transitions oscillate between gothic and everyday scenes, complemented by Jon Clark's masterful lighting that effortlessly shifts between sinister and sunny tones, mirroring the evolving moods of the narrative.

Stranger Things: The First Shadow

Stranger Things: The First Shadow review | Final verdict

Stranger Things: The First Shadow emerges as an unparalleled triumph in the realm of live theatre, skillfully transporting audiences into the heart of Hawkins' enigmatic universe. The production's ability to seamlessly blend electrifying performances, transformative set design, and dynamic lighting showcases the creative prowess of the team. From the enthralling narrative that unfolds with speed and scale to the innovative doubling effect, every element contributes to an immersive experience. Whether you're a seasoned fan of the Netflix series or a newcomer to the supernatural wonders of Hawkins, this stage adaptation stands independently as a technical marvel and a thrilling exploration of the Upside Down's mysteries. "The First Shadow" doesn't merely adapt; it transcends, making it an unmissable spectacle and a standout achievement in the world of theatrical brilliance.

Stranger Things: The First Shadow review | What the critics think

“It is neither derivative nor an exercise in imitation. This is breathtaking theatre with its own arresting imagination.”
Arifa Akbar, The Guardian

“After a slew of weak movie/television to theatre adaptations, The First Shadow is thrilling and a winner in my eyes.”
Bronagh, Theatre and Tonic

“Nothing in the town of Hawkins can ever be taken for granted, but this has the feeling of a major hit.”
David Benedict, Variety

“It's a truly wondrous technical achievement, blending stage and screen seamlessly with remarkable performances from a young cast — a fitting combination for Netflix's stage debut.”
Shannon Connellan, Mashable

How to buy Stranger Things: The First Shadow play tickets in London?

Looking for budget-friendly tickets for Stranger Things: The First Shadow play in London? Book your tickets online! Enjoy last-minute availability, choose your seats using the Phoenix Theatre seating plan, and skip the queues by booking at your convenience.

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