“A Monster Calls”: Hillcrest’s Production Companys’ Latest Show

Sarah Baird, Pawprint Staff Reporter

Hillcrest High’s Productions Company just finished their production of “A Monster Calls.” They performed the show from Jan. 20 -24, 2022. They were the first theater in Utah to perform this show.   

This show deals with many heavy themes, including cancer, death, grief, absent parents, bullying, and isolation. “A Monster Calls” is a fantastic show that uses those themes to open the door to necessary conversations about those topics and hopefully help people find healing. That’s what the company wanted.   

“The Tree Monster tells Conor, ‘I did not come to heal your mum, I came to heal you,'” director Joshua Long wrote in his director’s note. “Perhaps tonight, the monster has called to heal you.”   

At the beginning of the play,13-year-old Conor is woken up at 12: 07 by the yew tree outside his window. It’s come to life, and the tree monster tells Conor that he has three stories to tell. After the monster has told them all, Conor will tell a fourth story – the truth. The next day Conors’ grandmother, who he doesn’t like, comes to live with him to help his mother. Since Conor’s mom’s cancer treatments aren’t working, she is admitted to the hospital. Conor moves in with his grandma, and his dad flies in from America to help out and be with Conor. Adding on to all his troubles at home, three students are bullying Conor at school.    

At night, the monster continues to come and tells Conor its three stories. The first one is about a prince who, to prevent an evil queen from taking the throne, kills his bride and frames the queen. The villagers attempt to burn the queen, but the monster saves her because he knows that she didn’t kill the princess. The second story is about a greedy apothecary who wanted to buy the monster’s tree from a parson for medicine. The person refuses, but his two beloved daughters fall ill. He begs the apothecary for the medicine, saying he’ll do anything – even give up his beliefs. Again, the apothecary refuses to help, and the two young girls die. The monster then destroys the parsons’ home as punishment for giving up on his beliefs because life got complicated. The third story is about an invisible man who asked for the monster’s help so he could be seen. 

One day, when Conor comes home after visiting his mom in the hospital, the monster forces Conor to tell his truth by dragging him to a nightmare he’s been having – his mom is about to fall into a pit, and Conor’s the only one who can save her. Eventually, he lets go, although he tells himself it’s because he couldn’t hold on anymore.      

When pressed by the monster, Conor admits that he wants to be done with the pain of dealing with his moms’ cancer and that he wants it to be over.   

In his mother’s dying moments, the ensemble utters the final line of the play: “The boy held tightly on to his mother. And in doing so, he finally let her go.”