Stranger Things play will look into ‘origin of the Upside Down’

A play based on the world of Stranger Things promises to reveal “the origin” of the alternate reality universe, known as the Upside Down.

A sneak peek for Stranger Things: The First Shadow, set more than 20 years before the events of Netflix’s hit science fiction horror drama series, was released on Monday.

The new play is drawing on the lives of existing characters, including Henry Creel (Louis McCartney), Bob Newby (Christopher Buckley), Joyce Maldonado (Isabella Pappas) and James “Jim” Hopper Jr (Oscar Lloyd).

The new story will open in 1959 in the town of Hawkins as new student Henry arrives, and his family find “a fresh start isn’t so easy … and the shadows of the past have a very long reach”.

Stranger Things TV series writer Kate Trefry, who wrote the upcoming play, said in a teaser video that the new production also focuses on a new character, Patty Newby (Ella Karuna Williams).

Trefry said: “The main thrust of the story is Patty and her little budding romance with Henry.”

Dr Martin Brenner, the mysterious scientist in the original series, also makes a return as he is played by Dash & Lily star Patrick Vaill.

Vaill said: “It’s the origin of Stranger Things. It’s the origin of the Upside Down.”

In the Netflix show, the Upside Down is an alternate reality which is populated by monsters who can communicate as a hive mind.

Ella Karuna Williams and Louis McCartney star in Stranger Things: The First Shadow (Charlie Gray/Netflix © 2023/PA)
Ella Karuna Williams and Louis McCartney star in Stranger Things: The First Shadow (Charlie Gray/Netflix © 2023/PA)

The play is produced by Netflix and Sonia Friedman Productions as Duffer Brothers – creators of Stranger Things – act as creative producers and 21 Laps serve as associate producers.

In the teaser, Sonia Friedman, whose company produced the hit play Harry Potter And The Cursed Child, said: “It’s also the origin story of how Henry Creel became Number One.”

In the original Netflix series, Henry has psychic powers and serves as a primary antagonist of the show.

The play promises to “take you right back to the beginning of the Stranger Things story – and may hold the key to the end”.

Shane Attwooll, who has been in Wonder Woman 1984 and Legend, takes on the role of Chief Hopper as Michael Jibson, who has been in The Reckoning and The Essex Serpent, stars as Henry’s father Victor Creel and Matilda The Musical actress Lauren Ward plays Victor’s wife Virginia Creel.

Louis McCartney and Patrick Vaill (Charlie Gray/Netflix © 2023/PA)
Louis McCartney and Patrick Vaill (Charlie Gray/Netflix © 2023/PA)

The streaming giant’s original series – which has run for four seasons – saw police chief Jim played by David Harbour, Sean Astin take on the role of Radioshack manager Bob and Jamie Campbell Bower and Raphael Luce portray Henry.

Dr Brenner had been portrayed by Matthew Modine while Winona Ryder played Joyce Byers, who originally had the surname Maldonado.

Stranger Things: The First Shadow opens on December 14 at the Phoenix Theatre in London’s West End, with previews from November 17.