Review: Frankenstein – How to Make a Monster

Mary Shelley's classic story is given a new voice

theatre review (adelaide) | Read in About 2 minutes
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Published 03 Mar 2020

There might be a handful of red flags if you spot this show in the program. The 80 minute runtime, for one; young folks doing beatboxing, for another. But check your preconceptions at the door. This is a remarkable, once-in-a-Fringe kind of production.

The talk of the town at last year’s Edinburgh Fringe, Frankenstein: How to Make a Monster is a gig-theatre retelling of Mary Shelley’s iconic horror novel. The kicker is that it’s performed by members of the BAC Beatbox Academy – a London-based collective that works with kids from all walks of life and trains them up in vocal wizardry. That is to say, singing, rapping, spoken word, and – of course – beatboxing, that beguiling and sometimes uncanny trick of imitating drum sounds. 

All of these vocal skills are utilised – and only vocals, it’s important to stress, no matter what sounds you think you’re hearing – to unpack, dice up, reinterpret and redefine the Frankenstein myth. It’s given a shake-up for the modern age, exploring how society creates monsters and the pain of systemic othering. What makes the show so compelling, beyond the incomprehensible talent of the six on stage, is the genuine energy and passion that beams out of this young, diverse cast. 

The a cappella virtuosity, original songs and captivating lighting would be enough to make this a winner. Add in their commitment to community outreach (for Adelaide, they’ve worked with Carclew to run beatbox sessions for local youth) and you have a show that doesn’t compromise its social message for the sake of entertainment.