Review: Charle’s Cravens “Dinner with Frankenstein”

A night of blood, bodies and beef, Charles Craven’s “Dinner with Frankenstien” takes a comedic twist on the traditional tale, as Frankenstein must conduct his experiments whilst simultaneously entertaining dinner guests.

 In the first act, servant Dobbins (played by Tom Clutterbuck) claimed that the dinner was going to be “a laugh a minute”.  This certainly came true; the witty script ensured that the audience and cast were both clearly enjoying themselves greatly throughout the night. The show saw Craven’s debut as a playwright, making it even more tragic that this will be Craven’s last show with BUST. Although some of the comedy and characterisation felt a touch strained at times, not a single audience member left without a smile on their face. Many of the serious themes of Shelley’s original story, from the definition of humanity to the purpose of science, were impressively still kept in Craven’s adaptation; making the play comedic but with depth.

Adriano Howlett embodied Victor Frankenstein from the moment he took to the stage, with a voice that was able to flit between passionately determined, to a shrill laugh that became an audience favourite. His full return to BUST next year will be an exciting prospect for future productions. Sam Lamont’s creature was truly excellent, creating a character who was able to be the subject of sympathy and fear alike. It is difficult to find an actor who can both make us laugh and feel sad like Lamont, who perfectly brought out the serious notes that underpinned the play.

The sheer talent of the entire cast was evident throughout the play, from the large parts to the small. Sarah Bridge’s drugged up, hippie PE teacher Sedna was hilarious, stealing her scenes even without speaking (a personal favourite was her attempt to light a breadstick like a cigarette).Ben Atkinson played the role of a stereotypical rich father with a bright stage presence well beyond his years, delivering a heartbreakingly scalding speech to Frankenstein near the play’s climax about his daughter. Jon Whittaker naturally had the full attention and love of the audience as the loud, idiotic town policeman that, despite his brief appearance on stage, was able to be one of the most memorable points of the night.

Bath Fringe is a notoriously difficult slot for BUST to execute well; with limited rehearsal hours after exams, the main bulk of work boils down to a mere few days. Dinner with Frankenstein was certainly not immune to the Fringe’s curse, as certain elements of surprise were lost through clumsy handling of props. However, this did not hugely detract from the overall comedic effect and the cast and crew must be applauded for their ambitious use of props. Lines were well learnt, and the actors’ talent for improvisation was able to both mend any gaps and bring fresh moments of shining comedy.

Ultimately, the night was hugely enjoyable and both the cast and crew should feel immensely proud for their hard work.

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