On the search for the most inappropriate story to turn into a pantomime, Mangled Yarn theatre company hit the nail on the head when reanimating Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. The company of four raced through this classic, from the Doctor’s internal identity struggle as villain or hero to the monster’s tragic end.
Placing disco music at its heart was the lightning strike this production needed. The performance is brimming with one-liners and inventive explorations of character, but what gives the performance its unique fringe feel is the ability of the actors to play a variety of live instruments.
This orchestration offers a homemade feel in this small fringe venue, stitching together this neat audience of slightly boozed up adults for a late billing on bank holiday Sunday.
All aspects of pantomime are harnessed; Neil Jenning’s Yorkshire dame brings the all-important puns whilst providing a mental break from the wordy plot fuelled script. Jenning’s is effectively complemented by Chris Coxon’s Igor, a lively buttons character who drives the plot as well as some truly terrible jokes.
Rhianna Compton is the real surprise of this tight cast. Her witty take on the Monster is self-aware, sarcastic and a pretty remarkable soul singer. Compton’s commitment to the monster’s characteristic groans is likely to be award winning.
In the role of Everyone Else, performer Alex Rivers delivers multiple knock out performances with ease. Rivers calls upon some stellar multi-rolling skills to embody a reluctantly gay narrator, a snotty child and the first of the Monster’s victims as well as Frankenstein's self-obsessed lover Elizabeth. Rivers makes hard work look like a breeze. Clearly the strongest performer, the audience is left with little doubt as to why she was cast with so many responsibilities.
An honourable mention should be given to the knitted aspect of costume on every character, which emphasises the homemade but hardworking feel of this delightful piece of theatre. As with any pantomime, it is best served with a pinch of salt and a mind for fun.
Frankenstein the Pantomime is quintessential fringe theatre and does what it says on the tin - and then some.