Netflix’s major, hit show Stranger Things is one that has cultivated many fans since it first aired in 2016. Due to the success of the show, the creators have transported Hawkins, Indiana to the Phoenix Theatre in London’s West End. Directed by three-times Oscar-nominated Stephen Daldry and with a script by Kate Trefry, a writer on the TV show. Stranger Things: The First Shadow is based on a story created by Trefry, Jack Thorne (co-writer of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child) and showrunners the Duffer Brothers. The combination of this extraordinary team makes the play one that is fresh but remains with the sense of the show. 


Stranger Things: The First Shadow is a prequel to the series. It begins with what is effectively a pre-credits sequence which depicts, with a twist, the mythical Philadelphia Experiment, a military test conspiracy theorists claimed the US Navy carried out in 1943. This is then followed by the opening credits instantly putting the audience within the episodes they know and love. The story then picks up in Hawkins, Indiana in 1959 where the audience meets characters they have met before such as Joyce Maldonado, Bob Newby and  Jim Hopper. More importantly we meet a young Henry Creel who audiences got glimpses of in season 4 and we learn more about him and his powers. Alongside this we meet a new character called Patty Newby who bonds with Henry over their loneliness and being an outsider. The creative and innovative script by Kate Tefry allows audiences to delve into characters in a way we haven’t seen them before but still remains with the theme of the original show while also providing a thrilling theatrical experience. 


When looking at the performances there was not one weak performance in the entirety of the production, however there were some standout performances that blew the audience away. To begin with, Louis McCartney makes his west end debut playing Henry Creel who gets possessed by the creatures of the upside down. He was able to convey a wide range of emotions from happiness, to fear, to sadness, to anger through his vocal abilities and physicality. His performance of Henry was both powerful and nuanced and gave him a perfect anti-hero character for audiences to both love and hate. Another performance that was a standout was Isabella Pappas who played the beloved character of Joyce. Although her story line was not as intense as Creel’s she took over the role from Winona Ryder and gave an almost spitting image performance that captures the heart of the original show, creating a perfect stage adaptation for the fans. 


From the minute the show starts you are transported into the episodes and with the use of the stunning and realistic special effects, amazing direction and incredible acting we are able to immerse ourselves into Hawkins, Indiana. This production has opened many doors for future productions and is unlike any traditional play in the West End. Overall, it creates a brilliant show for not only fans of the show but also people looking to explore a new play.