“In darkest London, a story of man and monster is waiting to be told. Travel deep into the twisted memories of Victor Frankenstein.” Alan Ronald was brave enough to attend Midnight Circle Productions‘ immersive version of Frankenstein…
Bethnal Green church stands amongst the quiet estates and the bustle of the nearby high street, and nobody would have any intimation that this October the undead were regularly being brought to life deep in the basement of the unassuming building.
After being welcomed inside, offered a drink by the mouthy bar staff, and trying to avoid getting your pockets picked by the inebriated sailors, a young man named Victor Frankenstein shows up, and begins to tell you his tale…
What follows is a wonderful journey through Frankenstein’s memories, and it is chilling to be in the room to witness at close hand his successes and failures.
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There are many changes to the original tale, but to outline them here would spoil the surprise. Suffice to say, this version of Frankenstein is very much about family, with some of the most frightening scenes emerging from the conflicts that arise within the Frankensteins’ relationships.
The show is very stripped down, aware of its limitations and very much leaning into them; that said, the sheer attention to detail was wonderful, and I found myself picking up and reading scraps of paper and handwritten notes, all of which helped immerse me in the story. The technical aspects of the show are, I suspect, more complicated than they seem, with very subtle lighting changes and excellent music cues that seems to rise unnoticed as the scenes progressed.
The cast of seven are truly remarkable, and their dedication to the characters was unwavering. There were at least two instances in which I felt I shared a private moment with a cast member. To reveal them here would be too much, but in one of these moments I felt I learned something heart-breaking that many of the other members of the audience had yet to discover, and in the other I felt like a very unwelcome observer in Victor’s study.
Each of the cast perform several incredibly moving set pieces, as well as some outstanding – and terrifying – physical scenes. Their performances really carry the show and it is a joy to watch them inhabit these characters. Special mention should go to Nadia Lamin as the creature; a unique, horrifying and visceral take on a difficult role. For me, the performances of all the actors made this seem like a bigger production than it was, as the work put in was very clear to see.
Immersive theatre can be a difficult thing, as at some points you are all too aware that you are missing scenes, but at no point did I feel it rude or inappropriate to wander to another room and see what was happening. The cast never seemed rattled by anything the audience did, and so you felt free to walk around. I suspect it was as close as anyone would like to get to feeling what it was like to be a ghost.
We were told going in, that if a door was open we could go inside, but not if it was closed. This is such a simple and brilliant way to let you know what the boundaries are, and I have experienced many immersive experiences fall down on this front. From the moment we arrived we felt as though we were in good hands: essential for immersive theatre.
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This was a brilliantly performed and original take on the Frankenstein tale, with some genuinely emotional and horrifying moments. Not one for the faint of heart – but what did you expect? I am keen to see what Midnight Circle does next, as this was a Halloween treat.
Frankenstein: An Immersive Show… It’s alive!
Frankenstein: An Immersive Show is playing in Bethnal Green until Saturday 14th October.