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Brighton Year-Round 2019

Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein

Truestory Theatre

Genre: Family, Theatre

Venue: The Spire

Festival: ,

Low Down

Truestory bring this inventive and affecting Mary Shelley classic frightener to the again wisely chosen Spire, hot on the heels of their sell out success Dracula last year.


I could sum up this new production from Truestory Theatre in one word, or I could write celebratory sentences about it. I’ll do both. Halloween is upon us, and so is this finely crafted, superbly delivered creation.

F…abulous, immersive location – a church, ideal for a gothic feel, the echoes of fear and regret, and every inch used to create just the right atmosphere for theatre at Halloween

R...esonant and relevant. We lives in times where science is claiming success at growing human organs inside monkeys, in editing our genes, and bringing extinct animals back to life.

Acted with skill, commitment, intensity and clarity with detailed costumes that bring monster, visionary and crazed scientist, as well as a talented cast to fully realised, believable life; amid choreography, and vocal delivery that fully and properly inhabits the space, from stained glass window to high surprise gallery.

N…ever have I seen our Prometheus so frightening and paradoxically heart-warmingly created and realised on stage. I’ve co-directed Frankenstein for the theatre myself and taken it to decent reviews at the Edinburgh Fringe and it wasn’t half as good as this. This has test-tubes full of imagination and successful theatrical realisation. The silence of the audience was sacred (rooted in fear, fascination and silent witness)  and we were both repulsed by and sympathetic towards a corpse made into arrogant and misguided Science’s version of Adam, stitched together and injected with life-forcing electricity. If alchemy is what really brings this abhuman to life, it is ignored by a materialistic science that confuses passion with obsession.

K...ids loved it as much as the grown ups. Eyes wide in fascination: the story builds and reveals and we are not given it all on a plate from the very start. We have to meet it with a decent amount of attention. The children got it. This was an accessible, tasty monster of a production, occasionally working us harder for our understanding but rewarding us with a rich story.

E…njoyable, engaging and exciting. True Story have timed and deftly paced this just right. At around an hour the story feels all of a piece, never rushed, never laboured.

Not gratuitously gory, we nevertheless wince how we see a man is made, presented with a successful directness, yet clever use of shadow theatre means more than a few looked away but simply had to look back so as not to miss any of the darkly comic inventiveness of cracked science at both work and play – the butchery and surgery of corpse into live thing.

S...cripted in Gary Sefton’s unique style, a careful and respectful homage to the original but cut down to the necessary with creative addition that gently adds accessibility to a modern audience.

Technically tight, the narrative unfolds through set piece dialogue, ensemble movement, music, string lighting design and a few satisfying surprises. Audience heads turn as the action shifts to different parts of the large venue that is the Spire. This company claimed this space confidently for their own years ago. Now it’s their artistic playpen.

E…ach separate element of the show chimes together to create a resonant tale of horror, an analysis of the moral limits of science, a family Halloween show, and a tragedy that was moving and left me asking important questions about life, death and the price of living on.

I…n blending direct drama with some more symbolic physical theatre, and in treating this Mary Shelley classic with affectionate respect we were given both authenticity and enjoyable fantasy, with a decent dollop of ghosts and a chilling, reflective ending

No surrender to the television generation, a book was lifted off the page, transposed for the stage with an attention to detail, an impressive design and delivery of stagecraft and, mist of all, a story that held attention throughout.

So, there’s the review of this excellent show in one word and many sentences. Frankenstein – another success for Sefton and his lab of creative endeavour.

Truestory have done it again, bringing Halloween to family audiences, reminding us of what lurks intriguingly and scarily in the shadows. We get a story of depth, imagination and the very best in site-specific theatre making.

A must see.