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The Production

The Production


The Irish Giant is the true tale of two remarkable men. John Hunter: a pioneering 18th-century surgeon obsessed with life, death - and abnormal bodies. And Charles Byrne: Georgian London’s biggest celebrity, an 8ft-tall Irishman.

Developed in close collaboration with a medical ethicist and a medical historian, this work-in-progress performance plunges its bloody hands into Byrne's history to discover: who owns our bodies - and who should? Are we all just flesh and bone? And how do you live when death is daily shadowing your every step..?

Intellectually the production asks important and timeless questions about what it means to be human in the past and present, and of the relationship between science, faith and commerce. Can our belief in the ‘usefulness’ of science justify the disregard of other beliefs and value systems?

How ‘valuable’ is human life?

This is an early stage work in progress of The Irish Giant, devised by Cartoon de Salvo

Cartoon de Salvo are Rebecca Hurst, Brian Logan and Alex Murdoch. Directed by Alex Murdoch and Designed by Rebecca Hurst

Cartoon de Salvo’s brand new show The Irish Giant is a work-in-progress production. Following a period of research with their science advisers and short residencies at New Greenham Arts and BAC, they spent time in London and one week at Warwick reworking the piece to the Centre for the History of Medicine’s length and venue specifications. As Cartoon de Salvo make devised theatre from improvisation, rather than a script, the piece performed was the result of around 3 weeks work on the show, starting from scratch. Working closely with CHM, they built a set, composed and learned the music and tailored the story to open and inspire wider discussion.

"Most memorable moments: The metaphoric journey of the soul showed in the cartoon, the cycle of life showed by the cartoon, the songs are beautiful and illustrative."

"I think the show should be commended for its emphasis on drawing together of art/life, for making a statement and for making the audience reflect on the modern day relationship/dominance of science/religion and morals."

"I particularly liked the songs and the animations, and equally the use of space. Fantastic!"