The Book Club Cabaret presents Mary Shelley's ‘Frankenstein’ review

Things to do, Performances
Recommended
4 out of 5 stars
The Book Club Presents Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein

Time Out says

4 out of 5 stars

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Shelley's immortal horror novel is presented as a lavish gothic cabaret

This lavish gothic theatre thriller is the perfect dinner date for literary hedonists with a bit of money to spend. The Book Club Cabaret’s ‘Frankenstein’ unfolds in the Gore Hotel – a plush piece of Victoriana in its own right – where a timid bride is preparing for her wedding to an intense young scientist called Victor Frankenstein.

Guests are ushered in ones and twos into various curtained crannies to meet him, as he raves about his quest to do great scientific work, and her, as she wonders if she knows her true self. It’s hardly all gothic gloom: the improvised tea-leaf-reading session in the library with Adam Perchard’s flamboyant psychic is gloriously funny. Clearly this relationship is not going to end well, but we’re going to be well entertained on the road to their destruction.

After this amuse-bouche of mulled wine and private performance, it’s down to the cellar for a six-course banquet from Michelin-starred chef Daniel Galmiche. As guests devour the dainty, wedding breakfast, the theatre grows wilder. We hear chilling monologues from Frankenstein and his monster, circling each other in the frozen north – and some terrifically unhinged acrobatic dancers swoop in, describing the appallingly lonely creature in a swirl of black fabric and shadows – before eventually devouring the bride.

Every detail here has been carefully crafted: from the increasingly louche couture to outstanding live violinist Frances Tidey to the audio and lighting to the black candles dripping on the banquet table. It does bite off a little bit more than it can chew: the commendable attempt to give the poor victim a voice of her own isn’t quite convincing, partly because the voices that Shelley wrote for Frankenstein and his creature are so powerful. But the pace is fast and the wine flows, so occasional fails don’t dent the fun. This troupe has a taste and talent for embellishments, some of which are superb. An adaptation of Fagin’s ‘Reviewing the Situation’ (from ‘Oliver!’), sung by Frankenstein to a meat puppet (don’t ask) was an act of twisted genius which I won’t forget in a hurry. Disgustingly good fun.

 

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