Playwright Desi Moreno-Penson has been forced to change the title of her play Grinch to Devil Land by Dr. Seuss Enterprises, which controls the work of the late Theodore "Dr. Seuss" Geisel, author of the book How the Grinch Stole Christmas.

The Immediate Theatre Company, which is producing the play, received a cease-and-desist letter from Dr. Seuss Enterprises last month. Set in the Bronx during the late 1990s, the play is loosely based on the real-life kidnapping of a young Latina girl who was locked in a boiler room for over a year by her parents.

Moreno-Penson told TheaterMania that the original title was not inspired by the famed Seuss character but by the fact that she saw the word scribbled on a lamppost near the scene of the crime. The playwright added that the threat of legal action took her by surprise. "I've been getting so many emails from people who've looked up 'grinch' in the dictionary, and they don't know what the problem is because it is part of our lexicon," she said.

Herb Cheyette, a representative of Dr. Seuss Enterprises, told TheaterMania that he found out about the play after seeing an ad for it but has not read the script. The Grinch title in itself is objectionable to the company, said Cheyette, because "everyone would think it was a play related to Dr. Seuss."