Shockheaded Peter will shock you silly

By Madge Slack

What’s the scariest thing you can imagine? Losing your home? Failing your finals? Graduating? Maybe it’s your partner leaving or losing your job? Maybe it’s a child dying in a horrific accident, or going to a concert and never coming home.

Today’s world is sadly a terrifying place. We often like to ignore that and stay in our warm hidey holes with loved ones and comfort food. Maybe the bad won’t find us—maybe it will. However, we can and should choose to acknowledge it.  But who really wants to spend their life staring horror in the face? No one; so we must be clever…

Clever is just the word I would use to describe Sackerson theater. They are a small company here in Salt Lake. They are dedicated to “new works, unconventional spaces, and bold audiences” according to their website. Most of their shows are what is called ‘devised theatre.’ This means they start with a concept or question and they build a play around it through the rehearsal process. They don’t start with a script and their sets, costumes, and other designs elements are created throughout the process and often limited by their space.

Their latest show is called “Shockheaded Peter.” It is a compilation of stories from a German children’s book “Struwwelpeter.” They are meant to be cautionary tales where—typical of the gruesome German stereotype—all of the children die. They tell you this in the opening monologue. The show runs about 75 minutes with no intermission and is a comedy, odd as that sounds.

The five actors are accompanied by a stellar band who are fully engaged in the show. The props and puppets, created by Madeline Ashton, are awesome. The space is small and intimate so be prepared to move over as the actors occasionally come watch the show with you. There is not much of a plot line but lots of funny slapstick moments. When I went some of the audience members talked back to the actors during the show which created an intensely entertaining atmosphere.

Sarah Shippobotham played the MC who narrated the play. She was fantastic at keeping the audience engaged and working with spur of the moment changes whether they were prop malfunctions or mouthy old men. The other actors did a great job of playing at least 6 roles each over the course of the play and brought the audience along as best they could.

The only thing lacking in this show was the link between the title character Shockheaded Peter and the rest of the stories. He appears frequently but without any explanation as to who he is or why. Perhaps I merely missed something as no one else seemed to be bothered by this.

This is a great show to see if you are looking for a good laugh and enjoy adult humor that’s categorized as slapstick, silly or dark. Due to its success, the show has been extended to run through Nov. 4. Performances are on the weekends in addition to Halloween eve and Halloween. Tickets can be purchased at