Shockheaded Peter is based on the original gothic tales and illustrations of the "Struwwelpeter", penned by a German doctor, Heinrich Hoffman, in 1844. In it, Peter and his unruly band of wicked youths present a series of tales in the fashion of an eerie variety show of illusions, puppetry and music - all set against pop-up, musical-box modern staging.
The show, a Cultural Industry Project produced in collaboration with the West Yorkshire Playhouse and the Lyric Hammersmith theatre, premiered in Leeds in March 1998. Since then it has had three sell-out runs at the Lyric Hammersmith in west London and toured the UK and internationally to Europe, the US, Canada, New Zealand, Australia and Hong Kong.
Shockheaded Peter is created and performed by Julian Bleach, Anthony Cairns, Graeme Gilmour, Tamzin Griffin and Jo Pocock. It is directed by Phelim McDermott and Julian Crouch and designed by Crouch and Gilmour, with lighting by Jon Linstrum, costumes by Kevin Pollard and sound by Mic Pool and Andy Brooks. Music is care of The Tiger Lillies (Adrian Hughes, Martyn Jacques and Adrian Stout) with musical direction by Jacques.
The junk opera's many accolades include the 1998 Barclays/TMA Best Director award for McDermott and Crouch and the 1999 Critics Circle Best Design award for Crouch and Gilmour. The show was also nominated for the 1999 South Bank Show theatre award. It is rumoured that a film version, with Channel 4, is in the works.