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Hartlepool Monkey swinging on to the stage in Cardiff.

THE makers of smash-hit theatre epic War Horse are bringing a new show to the Wales Millennium Centre in Cardiff.

Based on a 200-year-old legend, The Hartlepool Monkey follows the story of a shipwreck off the English coast at the height of the Napoleonic Wars with just two survivors - a cabin girl and a chimpanzee called Napoleon in military uniform.

Terrified of a French invasion locals put the ape on trial, accused of being a spy, with grisly consequences.

Now the tale has been adapted by the stage by the creators of War Horse.

Co-directors Toby Olie and Finn Caldwell, who founded company Gyre & Gimble, began working on the production in 2014 and were on the look out for a new show that incorporated puppetry.

The pair met working on the original production of War Horse at the National Theatre and ended up becoming associate puppetry directors of the show.

Since starting work the duo say the tale has become more relevant than ever following the Brexit vote - with a tale about the irrationality of xenophobia while also celebrating humanity's ability to overcome prejudice.

"The themes always present in the myth - of fear and xenophobia - feel more charged and vivid. How couldn't they, with what's happened around the world in the last 36 months?" They added: "What excites us most as theatre directors is how the work connects with its audience who give it meaning, and resonates differently in different places and times. Touring The Hartlepool Monkey in 2017 gives us a peek into a town in the North East during the Napoleonic Wars but it also gives us insight into the world around us today in fascinating ways.

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

| The Hartlepool Monkey runs at the Wales Millennium Centre until October 21. Tickets cost PS12.

The Hartlepool Monkey features hi-tech puppets DAN TSANTILIS

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Publication:South Wales Echo (Cardiff, Wales)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Oct 18, 2017
Words:333
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