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Manual Cinema’s Frankenstein review at Underbelly, Edinburgh – ‘stylish, slickly executed’

Manual Cinema's Frankenstein. Photo: Michael Brosilow

Like all Manual Cinema’s work, this version of Frankenstein is a super-skilled endeavour. Using a mixture of silhouette work, live performance, music and song, part of the pleasure of watching the large company always lies in simply witnessing their deftness at creating the work on stage.

This rewrite of Frankenstein frames the famous tale of a reanimated body as a direct result of Mary Shelley’s daughter Clara dying as an infant. At the start, we see a yawning Shelley attempting to fit writing into her evenings after settling the newborn while Percy Bysshe, free from the boredom of childcare, merrily scribbles away in the next room.

With a preference for sweetly ethereal melodies and long eyelashed women, Manual Cinema’s output can occasionally feel a bit saccharine (Lula del Ray certainly fell into this trap), but Frankenstein is thankfully darker and much wittier.

There’s a lot of joy to be found in the details – frightful obstetric equipment and quirky Victoriana like Millais’ painting of John Ruskin hanging on the wall. The silent movie motif is also inspired. All in, it’s an act of creation and animation the eponymous doctor would have been proud of.

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Stylish, slickly executed version of Mary Shelley’s gothic classic