Shockheaded Peter was created in 1998 by a theatre company called Cultural Industry and directed by Julian Crouch and Phelim McDermott. It was first staged at the Lyric Hammersmith before its rave reviews secured a transfer to the West End.
The show was inspired by 'Struwwelpeter', a German book of gruesome children's stories by Heinrich Hoffmann published in 1844. In his moral tales, children receive the most horrible punishments for minor transgressions. The boy who sucks his thumbs has them chopped off, and the girl who plays with matches is burnt to death. (Hoffmann himself described the collection as 'pretty stories and funny pictures!')