• By Elaine C
  • |
  • 15th Jul 2021
  • |
  • UK Regional & Tours

In 2005 Jane Jessop founded Blue Apple Theatre company for her son Tommy Jessop. As an actor with downs syndrome finding acting roles was a struggle. He made history when he became the first professional actor with downs syndrome to play Hamlet. Many readers will recognise from his latest BBC role of Trever “In the Line of Duty”. Blue Apple is a company for actors with a range of learning disabilities. They have gone from strength to strength over the years, producing some extremely high quality and challenging productions.

Victor to construct the monster on stage allowing the audience to suspend their disbelief and witness the birth of Frankenstein’s monster

Their latest production Frankenstein by Mary Shelley is no exception to this and exhibits the talent and professionalism that this company never fail to produce and bring to the stage.

Using live actors, puppetry and recorded discussions exploring the lady behind the famous gothic novel and her lineage as well as the famous story unfolding on stage offered the audience more of a humanitarian viewpoint into the creation of Frankenstein. Their informed and open discussion about whether this story was about nature or nurture was fascinating.

James Benfield takes on the role of the famous monster’s creator Dr Victor Frankenstein accompanied by his friend and wife Elizabeth (Katy Francis).  With brilliant performances from other familiar cast members joining them on stage was Sam Dace as Henry, Lawrie Morris, and Ros Davies in the role of Victor’s mother and father and Anna Brisbane as Justine.

The creation of the monster took the form of a half oversized human torso with arms, worked on stage by cast members in a “Warhorse” style animation. The wicker styled creation broke down into pieces to enable Victor to construct the monster on stage allowing the audience to suspend their disbelief and witness the birth of Frankenstein’s monster. For regular blue apple theatre followers, the familiar tones from Tommy Jessop could be heard as he took on the role of performing the sinister and domineering voice.

Producing any theatre production in the current restrictions is challenging. However, ensuring as many cast members as possible participated in this production the recorded discussions allowed for as many actors to be included as possible.

The live performance held in Theatre Royal Winchester had been set out in a covid safe environment. It was nice to see James Elsworthy, one of Blue Apple’s actors working front of house in Theatre Royal meeting and greeting audience members, maybe a new career path for this valued and respected long-standing performer.

When it comes to removing barriers and not being defeated by restrictions Blue Apple are always ready to rise to the challenge. Artistic director Richard Conlon and the whole production team have produced another first-class play with the wonderful actors in the Blue Apple Theatre company. If you have never seen any of their work please check them out.

Since you’re here…

… we have a small favour to ask. We don't want your money to support a hack's bar bill at Abattoir, but if you have a pound or two spare, we really encourage you to support a good cause. If this article has either helped you discover a gem or avoid a turkey, consider doing some good that will really make a difference.

You can donate to the charity of your choice, but if you're looking for inspiration, there are three charities we really like.

Mama Biashara
Kate Copstick’s charity, Mama Biashara, works with the poorest and most marginalised people in Kenya. They give grants to set up small, sustainable businesses that bring financial independence and security. That five quid you spend on a large glass of House White? They can save someone’s life with that. And the money for a pair of Air Jordans? Will take four women and their fifteen children away from a man who is raping them and into a new life with a moneymaking business for Mum and happiness for the kids.
Donate to Mama Biashara now

Theatre MAD
The Make A Difference Trust fights HIV & AIDS one stage at a time. Their UK and International grant-making strategy is based on five criteria that raise awareness, educate, and provide care and support for the most vulnerable in society. A host of fundraising events, including Bucket Collections, Late Night Cabarets, West End Eurovision, West End Bares and A West End Christmas continue to raise funds for projects both in the UK and Sub-Saharan Africa.
Donate to Theatre MAD now

Acting For Others
Acting for Others provides financial and emotional support to all theatre workers in times of need through the 14 member charities. During the COVID-19 crisis Acting for Others have raised over £1.7m to support theatre workers affected by the pandemic.
Donate to Acting For Others now