‘compelling…this production has a charm and inventiveness that transform this 17th-century story into a winning fable about humanity’s need for compassion’
Cartoon de Salvo’s new devised show – their first to be based on a true story – comes to Southwark Playhouse this summer as part of the company’s fifteenth birthday celebrations. At the sharp end of the Enlightenment, The Irish Giant tells the tale of two remarkable men – Charles Byrne, Georgian London’s biggest star, an eight-foot tall Irishman; and John Hunter, a pioneering surgeon obsessed with life, death and abnormal bodies. Their story sets science and belief on a collision course, with consequences that still reverberate – and cause controversy – today.
Plunging its bloody hands into history, The Irish Giant explores the ethics of who owns our bodies, who should – and what life, if any, awaits us after death?
‘Surreal, unpretentious, swashbuckling theatre. The honest, accessible philosophy of the company shines through in every scene.’
Time Out on Cartoon de Salvo
The Irish Giant is commissioned and supported by Shoreditch Town Hall, and developed at BAC. Supported by a Wellcome Trust Arts Award, Warwick Centre for the History of Medicine and the Arts Council England.
The Vault is a large untreated performance space in the Victorian arches beneath London Bridge Train Station and as such can get a bit chilly. Although we do everything we can to ensure audience comfort we’d advise to bring along jumper just in case!
Cartoon de Salvo are one of Britain’s best-loved theatre companies and 2012 is their fifteenth birthday. On their quest to mess with the live experience, they have created multiple hit shows including Meat and Two Veg (The Observer Top Ten Shows of the Year), Pub Rock, Hard Hearted Hannah and Other Stories (Daily Telegraph Top Ten Shows of the Year) and, most recently, the entirely improvised Made Up.
“There’s only one word to describe the gloriously theatrical Cartoon de Salvo – and that’s delicious.”
Wall Street Journal
Monday, 28 May
The Making of The Irish Giant
Alex Murdoch, Brian Logan and Neil Haigh (Cartoon de Salvo) alongside Professor John Wass (Specialist in Acromegalic Gigantism) and Muireann Quigley (Biomedical Ethicist) will discuss the making of The Irish Giant and their experience of art/science collaboration. The discussion will also focus on the condition of acromegalic gigantism as experienced by ‘the Irish Giant’, Charles Byrne, and the ethics surrounding ownership of the body in a biomedical context.
Saturday, 9 June (after matinee performance)
The Making of The Irish Giant
Alex Murdoch, Brian Logan & Neil Haigh (Cartoon de Salvo) alongside Dr Marta Korbonits (professor of endocrinology and metabolism) and Dr Claudia Stein (Director of the Centre for the History of Medicine) will discuss the making of The Irish Giant and their experience of art/science collaboration. The discussion will focus specifically on the production’s depiction of medical history, and on the condition of acromegalic gigantism as experienced by ‘the Irish Giant’, Charles Byrne – with reference to Dr Korbonits’ recent groundbreaking discoveries in that field.