1 min

Cut off his thumbs!

By all accounts, Shockheaded Peter will shock even the bravest of audience members.

This highly original British production is based on the 19th century German children’s classic Struwwelpeter, which is a compendium of children’s cautionary tales. But don’t confuse this with afternoon entertainment for the kiddies.

In one such cautionary tale a mother tells her child that if he doesn’t stop sucking his thumb a big, tall tailor will come into his room and chop off his thumbs with giant scissors -unfortunately, that’s exactly what happens.

“We ask that no children under 10 be taken to see the show,” says lead performer Julian Bleach, “because it can induce nightmares. Of course, it can do that for children over 10, too, but we hope that they can handle it.

“Really, the show works best for adults, because its largely about how parents control their children. Grown-ups can appreciate the irony of that and it cuts them close to the knuckle.”

In the collaboratively created production, Bleach plays the macabre MC – a smarmy actor-manager – who leads the audience through the spine-chilling stories.

Bleach, who is gay, thinks that the show will play particularly well to queer audiences. “One of the undeniable themes in the play is about how society reacts with horror to individuality and people who don’t conform. It’s about trying to repress what is not acceptable. I think most gay people can relate to that.

“But really,” he adds with a laugh, “the show is utterly politically unacceptable.”

Shockheaded Peter.

$25-$55. 8pm. Wed, Apr 26-29.

2pm. Sat, Apr 29-30.

Elgin Theatre.

189 Yonge St.

(416) 872-5555.