mono-07 mono-07
Cartoon Culture

“Princess Mononoke” Back on the UK Stage By Popular Demand

After a successful UK premiere and a short run in Tokyo, Whole Hog Theatre’s stage version of Hayao Miyazaki’s Princess Mononoke will return to London’s New Diorama Theatre next month due to “unprecedented demand.” The production is a collaboration between the British theatre troupe and Miyazaki’s Studio Ghibli and features large scale puppetry and a recreation of Joe Hisaishi’s original film score.

Miyazaki, who is known for refusing the re-versioning of his films into theatrical productions, approved the project after being presented with a video proposal from Whole Hog by way of Aardman’s Nick Park. As recalled by Studio Ghibli producer, Toshio Suzuki, he gave his consent “a couple of seconds” into viewing the presentation. Suzuki was equally impressed: “I wanted to watch a strange ‘Princess Mononoke’, he told the Wall Street Journal.

With puppets by Charlie Hoare and costumes by Yoseph Hammad, the show translates the film’s eco-friendly theme and inherent Asian aesthetic by use of reclaimed materials and a form of Japanese textile work called Boro, which involves the patch-working of rags into garments.

“Being a big Studio Ghibli and Miyazaki fan myself, I have no desire to alter the film’s narrative and atmosphere, or to add a ‘new spin’ on the story. I only want to re-tell it in a different form,” director Alexandra Rutter told “However, whilst audiences can expect to see much of the film’s narrative happen onstage, they should also expect the techniques we use to tell the story to be quite different.” And her artistic objective has paid off as the production has been picking up positive word of mouth, selling out entire runs and was even featured as one of Lyn Gardner’s theater picks in The Guardian.

The second UK run of Whole Hog Theatre’s Princess Mononoke is scheduled for June 18th-29th at the New Diorama Theatre in London. The cast is led by Mei Mac as San/Princess Mononoke and Maximillian Troy Tyler as Prince Ashitaka. The production also features musical direction by Kerrin Tatman and design by Polly Clare Boon.

(Photos: © Polly Clare Boon for Whole Hog Theatre)

  • Tom

    Thank you for bringing this to my attention, this is DEFINITELY something I can’t miss.

  • Dear chaps (please note, in this context, ‘chap’ is generic and should not imply that I assume you all have willys).
    I have to question the reason behind publicising this piece when it is apparent that tickets have been on sale for a while as a brief perusal of

  • Ellio

    Sold out :( Got my hopes up for nothing

  • Toonio

    You know something is good when audience in London demands the return of a play.

    Londoners are quite a rough crowd to please. Just read a London newspaper review about the Canadian ballet in London and it wasn’t any pretty. If you ask me they dance quite well, but have no say on what is good and what is not in ballet, so go figure.

    • anon

      I will never forget going to see Mama Mia in London with an entire tour group. I sat next to an English woman dressed-up like it was the royal ball with those old-fashioned binocular things. Thankfully my grandma taught me to always dress-up to the theater, no matter what you’re seeing because this woman spent the time before it began complaining about the “trashy-looking tourists at a theatre…typical” (I had to nod to hide the fact I was a trashy American tourist ha ha ha) and when the play was over and everyone was on their feet, she sighed loudly and rolled her eyes. She then proceeded to tell me everything that was wrong and by the time she was done, I was convinced it was an abomination toward all mankind.

  • Let’s be clear that this story tries to walk a razor’s edge between preservation and choking industry. I wish the boars had been tactically minded enough to stomp the life out of the iron mongers. Replace Ashitaka with a classic Mifune character and man, what a tale, but Disney would have never distributed it to North America.

  • Laughing Hyena

    Glad to been a part of their successful Kickstarter, despite living in the US. A fan of theater since a child (Thanks, mom) and I have worked with College stagecraft classes.

  • I’ve been lucky enough to get tickets for one of the first run in April, and i’m really sorry to say that i’ve been quite disappointed. I knew it would be different on stage of course, with these big puppets and without visual effects, but i was ready and hopeful to be surprised by great ideas, and by another vision of the whole story.
    When Alexandra Rutter tells that she “only want(s) to re-tell it in a different form”, she has, in my opinion, managed to do it far too well. It is really “just” a re-tell, and in no way an adaptation for stage. There is no new interpretation of the legend, no new reading of the story, no new aspect of the characters. The only difference is (obviously!) visual. I had the feeling of watching a simple “copy and paste” of the movie, except it took place on a (very) tiny stage, and with 50 peoples around me.
    It’s not a bad show at all: the few musicians are doing an amazing work on Hisaishi’s score, the costumes are great, and some of the ideas to recreate the universe of Mononoke are very well found (the Kodamas, or the “devil” Nago for example).
    But it really lacks work on the adaptation, it is sometimes very, very slow (especially when they need to take the big puppets in and out of stage), and some of the home-made effects (the water, the Shishigami, or the orangutans) made the whole thing look a bit awkward and ridiculous.
    It saddens me, but for me it was not as good as it could have been.

  • Wow, Miyazaki is very protective of his work. This must truly be something. It’s equally impressive how well this project did on Kickstarter. All of the props are really good too. Too bad this probably won’t ever hit the US!