Review: Frankenstein: How to Make a Monster at The Traverse

Six large amplifiers and six mics sit on the stage. The audience looks slightly intimidated by the noise potential of said amps. When the noise finally starts (after a fun but rather distracting interactive introduction to beatboxing by BAC Beatbox Academy leader Conrad Murray) it is astoundingly beautiful.

The cast of six build a soundscape which takes us from night to day, or maybe from rural to urban; birdsong and rain mingling gradually with sirens, roadworks, phone calls; every sound coming from the cast’s mouths enhanced by some gorgeous sound engineering.

Chapter one begins. The first song asks a central question to the Frankenstein story: when does genius become insanity? The second piece is led by ABH, a bona fide genius beatboxer, who takes us through the parts of the body and builds a monster out of music. Each part is represented with a tune – as diverse as The Prodigy’s Firestarter for the brain, to Pachelbel’s Canon for the lungs – which intertwine as the creature is completed. It’s alive!

Chapters two to five burst with original devised pieces of song, rap, spoken word, dance and of course, incredible beats. The cast get to grips with the loneliness, growing pains and anger of the monster, but they are also funny and extremely charming, gently dissing each other and playing with the audience. The show ends on a poignant note and deservedly gets a spontaneous standing ovation. Then Murray returns to the stage and referees a series of three one-on-one battles between the cast, which are awesome, but completely unrelated to the devised piece. They would have been better at the start rather than at the end when we were all still contemplating the message of the show.

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