‘Stranger Things: The First Shadow’ Review: How Netflix Makes the Scene? – LSB

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It will be an era until we see more of Hawkins on our screens. With Netflix Strange things With Season 5 possibly looking like a 2025 release, fans of the Duffer Brothers series have been waiting a long time for answers. Thankfully, the Upside Down has launched new tentacles in London’s West End, with an official face Strange things debuts this week at the Phoenix Theater — and it’s a prequel to the series.

Directed by Stephen Daldry with Justin Martin, Stranger Things: The First Shadow was written by Strange things writer and co-executive producer Kate Trefry. The story is based on a story by Trefry, the Duffer brothers and The cursed childJack Thorne, so there’s plenty of room to both stick to canon and do pure stage magic. It’s a truly astonishing technical feat, seamlessly blending stage and screen with remarkable performances from a young cast—a fitting combination for Netflix’s stage debut.


Stranger Things: The Experience gave me the catharsis that the series couldn’t

We may have to wait and see what happens to Max, Elle, and the gang, but at least we know a little more about what happened before Henry Creel became Vecna, the Battle of Starcourt Mall went down, and Will Byers disappeared through that wall. How does Netflix make the scene? Let’s get into it.

What is Stranger Things: The First Shadow regarding?

in "Stranger Things: The First Shadow" a girl stands on a chair to address a group of teenagers.

Yes, there is a play within a play.
Credit: Manuel Harlan

While Strange things seasons run from 1983 to 1986, the play that tormented the grandfather clock returns to 1959 where teenage Joyce Maldonado (Isabella Pappas) directs a high school play, teenage Jim Hopper (Oscar Lloyd) is in his first stage on investigation and teenager Bob Newby (Christopher Buckley) is the master of his own DIY radio show.

They all find their way to Hawkins High, along with a bunch of our favorites Strange things the future parents of the characters, including Eddie’s father Alan Munson (Max Harwood), Lucas’ parents Sue (Kemi Awoderu) and Charles Sinclair (Amar Duffus), Will and Jonathan’s father Lonnie Byers (Chase Brown), Nancy’s parents and Mike Caron (Florence Guy) and Ted Wheeler (Gilles Geary), and Dustin’s parents Claudia (Maisie Norma Seaton) and Walter Henderson (Callum Ross) — no, they’re not all at this point, but yeah, the people in Hawkins really haven’t been watching further their own dating classmates, obviously.

If you remember the flashbacks from Strange things Season 4, this is also the year the Creels move to Hawkins, including their ghostly son Henry (Louis McCartney), who becomes the number one, most important test subject in Dr. Brenner’s project at Hawkins National Laboratory. As Henry struggles to fit in at school while resisting the looming forces of the Upside Down, he meets a kindred spirit in Patty Newby (Ella Caruna Williams), Bob’s sister who is grappling with her own sense of belonging . But as Henry’s powers grow, his grip on reality begins to unravel, and everyone around him (including his doomed family) is in danger as strange and terrifying things begin to happen around Hawkins—as they do.

in "Stranger Things: The First Shadow" two teenagers sit on a ceiling with candles, the boy blindfolded.

Louis McCartney and Ella Caruna Williams as Henry Creel and Patty Newby.
Credit: Manuel Harlan

We’ve seen a significant amount of Creel’s history Strange things Season 4, but the addition of what was happening at Hawkins High at the time, as well as his relationship with Patty, adds to the narrative. And it is these strange occurrences that give the play its winning element: an incredible scene.

Stranger Things: The First Shadow is a technical marvel

in "Stranger Things: The First Shadow" a boy is enveloped in a greenish blue light that seems to emanate from him.

Next level.
Credit: Manuel Harlan

It is not superfluous to compare The first shadow to The cursed child for his exceptional stagecraft—there are many alumni beyond Thorne here, including technical director Gary Beestone and illusion and visual effects designers Jamie Harrison and Chris Fisher.

Like its predecessor Harry Potter, The first shadowThe stagecraft of is nothing short of magic, an impeccable technical set of projection mapping and pyrotechnics, and Tony/Olivier winning lighting designer John Clarke works wonders with the space. The play’s stunning opening sequence envelops the audience with enough effects to make William Castle squeal, and the impact is total immersion in the world of Hawkins and the looming Upside Down. Hardcore theater lovers may take issue with the amount of screens included in the production, allowing for backdrops and even establishing shots before the stage action begins, but this is a Netflix production after all.

in "Stranger Things: The First Shadow" boy looking in a broken mirror.

It’s a Netflix production, so the team is playing with multiple screens.
Credit: Manuel Harlan

With wonderful set design by Miriam Buether, the characters maneuver on a revolving stage in vignettes offering small glimpses of history, or highlighted in raised windows on the platform—the Creel House ceiling set is a particular highlight. To complete the immersion, the sound manipulation by the team really channels this Strange things essence, with sound designer Paul Arditti using the crackling noise of radio stations, buzzing lights and enhanced vocals to create terror on stage. The first shadow really flexes his terrifying muscles with finesse, which is no mean feat on stage. The play has some gruesome revelations and great jump scares that remind you that this Netflix series may, but doesn’t have to, involve kids for children.

The first shadowthe young cast is pure gold

in "Stranger Things: The First Shadow"three teenagers eat fast food in a hospital.

The main trio.
Credit: Manuel Harlan

The last shadow boasts a great young cast, all of whom fully embody their versions of the Netflix series’ favorite characters. Pappas steals the show as young Joyce, fully owning her zany banter, perpetual frustration with idiots, and dressing Hopper as cleverly as Winona Ryder on the show. And then there’s McCartney as Henry Creel. Making his stage debut, this young actor has a particularly difficult job as the tormented antagonist, who has to embody the monstrous takeover of the mind from the Upside Down with his own physical performance, elevated by effects, but still mostly McCartney – and this show is three hours long with a space. The constant believability he brings to this extremely complex, dark character as a whole is a miracle in itself.

Fellow leads Buckley and Lloyd as Bob and Hopper are downright hilarious with their comedic timing and the physical staging of Sean Astin and David Harbour’s characters – Lloyd gets a particularly funny interrogation scene that brings the house down. Williams is delightfully engaging and serious as Patty, the only person who really makes time for Henry, bonding over their shared social anxiety and love of Captain Midnight. And Patrick Weill makes for a terrific Brenner, bringing an almost Michael Shannon energy to his performance.

in "Stranger Things: The First Shadow" a wall of screens is operated by a man in a lab coat as a man and a boy stare at each other.

Patrick Weil as Dr. Brenner.
Credit: Manuel Harlan

Beyond the leads, the superb supporting cast create entire worlds out of their own characters, gifting them with little flourishes to bond with their future children – Everyone’s talking about Jamie star Harwood consistently hogs the spotlight as Eddie Munson’s melodramatic “method actor” father, even including a little Eddie-esque devil horns moment.

Stranger Things: The First Shadow adheres to canon

One area which Strange things fans will be keenly watching how closely the story sticks to canon. It’s in safe hands as the story was written by Trefry along with the Duffer brothers. Various events that we’ve seen in Season 4 flashbacks happen, especially the fate of the Creel family and Henry’s journey to Vecnarization being verified. And there are a few things made clear, especially Joyce and Hopper’s teenage romance, which is only hinted at in the show. As for Bob, the play changes the tune slightly by making Joyce and Bob high school friends—in the show, Joyce doesn’t remember Bob from school, but 25 years have passed.

in "Stranger Things: The First Shadow" three teenagers are joined by a large radio device pointing at each other.

In full flirt mode, predators arise.
Credit: Manuel Harlan

The play features characters like Hopper, Joyce, and Bob in the events of the more upside-down story, though they are removed enough from them to make their reactions meaningful in the series – Hopper investigates the crimes foreshadowing Vecna ​​in the play , but he’s in Russia when they start happening in Season 4; Joyce doesn’t actually see any of the supernatural events in the play, so she wouldn’t immediately think of them when her own son disappears into a wall in 1983.

All in all, Stranger Things: The First Shadow is an outstanding technical achievement that boasts a talented, engaging cast and shows us an earlier side of Hawkins that we only see in the series. This is really a story for the fans, so newcomers to the franchise may be a little confused starting with the game. But Netflix’s first stage show proves Netflix’s money i can transcend mediums, provided there is a talented group behind it. If you’re in London and a fan of Strange thingsyou will want to watch this show.

Stranger Things: The First Shadow runs from 17 November 2023 to 25 August 2024 at the Phoenix Theater in London. Tickets from the play’s website.

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