Mary Shelley is likely turning in her grave at Last Chance Saloon’s rendition of Frankenstein, but no doubt she’s also struggling to stifle a giggle at their heartfelt whack at adapting her masterpiece for the modern stage.
They hurtle towards the play’s conclusion, introducing a series of brilliant scenes requiring audience participation.
Frankenstein: UnBolted opens by exposing and correcting popular misconceptions about the novel. No, the monster himself is not called Frankenstein - his creator is. Having set the audience straight about the original story, Last Chance Saloon then leaves details at the door, proceeding to adorn the bones of the original story with their own imaginative flourishes.
Viktor and Henry, friends since childhood, develop an increasingly competitive relationship as they grow up. When Viktor (the perpetual underdog) leaves to study in Ingolstadt he thinks that he is finally out from under Henry’s shadow, until Henry too shows up with a lacrosse scholarship at the same university. A smarter scientist than Henry, Victor knows that he can surpass his old friend by succeeding academically - by bringing a dead body to life. So with the help of his butler Igor, and the talents of two charmingly dense gravediggers who speak in cryptic cockney rhyming slang, Viktor succeeds in bringing to life a posh, talented and charming creature named Frankie. But all is not as it seems, Victor realises, when he makes the mistake of handing his creature a drink.
Sam Dunham, Jack Faires and Jack Gogarty make a charming trio. Armed with a hand puppet and unafraid of quick costume and personality changes, the selection of characters goes well beyond just Henry, Viktor and Frankie. Their impersonations and range of accents are key to the comedy of the piece. Not to forget the delightful selection of mainstream pop songs that are cleverly injected into the action - the boys’ rendition of Beyonce’s notorious ‘Single Ladies’ dance routine is unmissable.
At times, however, Last Chance Saloon focus too much on trying to get a laugh from the audience, at the expense of plot development. For a while in the middle of the play, the narrative starts to feel loose and cluttered with an excess of comic skits. Nonetheless, the dynamic trio soon turn this around as they hurtle towards the play’s conclusion, introducing a series of brilliant scenes requiring audience participation.
This fast-paced show is well worth a watch. So head down to Just the Tonic at the Caves, and see what happens when an eerie novel from 1818 meets the vibrancy of the Edinburgh Fringe in 2014.