We are pleased to share that for our first Five Star review of Fringe 2019 goes to ‘Manual Cinema’s Frankenstein’, who achieved an overall total of 4.8 thereby giving them a 5 star review! This represents the highest standard of artistic performance and innovation in theatrical arts, and their production at McEwan Hall which we saw performed on Saturday was certainly worthy of the magnificent venue in which it was staged.
Like the glorious city of Edinburgh herself, this production was dark and broody on the outside, with a warm melancholic heart within, fusing different techniques and cultures to create a wonderous, complex, multi-layered entity that challenges our senses and will be remembered fondly by audiences long after Fringe 2019 has concluded.
A truly five star production.
Review Date – Saturday 3rd August 2019 Tickets – click here
Manual Cinema’s Frankenstein reworks the classic gothic tale, and cleverly weaves the horror story of Frankenstein with that of its writer Mary Shelley, and the tragedies she had to endure.
This production is intense as it is unique. The story was beautifully played out to hint at why the tragic events in Shelley’s life transpired into the creation of the monster of Frankenstein. Whilst the content of the narrative was exceptional in many ways, the ending felt somehow incomplete as to the tale of the monster. Overall though, even without the incredible staging, an incredible tale, unspoken, but well-told.
The Fringe has not seen anything like this show before so there is an inherent risk audiences will not be open the staging and be of divided opinion as to the production’s merits. And there may be some audience members of critics who take a personal approach on this and review more negatively. The EFC has more formalised guidance on how we star rate so that such personal preferences and viewpoints are disregarded, but our star ratings aside, it was very evident that the audience were very engaged and appreciative of the performance, and the audience members we overheard leaving the show were extremely positive. The standing ovation was genuine and the social media buzz created by past audiences recommending the show evidences the growing fan base for this production and the esteem in which this show is held by audiences.
Puffs of smoke and a complex set greeted the audience as they entered the hall. A cinema screen slowly flickers to life as the audience struggles to make out a gothic workshop in the background. The stage slowly comes to life as different elements of music, shadow puppetry, and shadow acting, contrive and twist and turn on stage to create a single image on the large screen above the main set.
The artistry and skill of the actors to create such a seamless live production of a ‘silent’ film was award-worthy and all involved should be congratulated for making the highly complex seem so effortless on the screen.
One slight quibble on the staging was the orchestra members were not in costume and their lack of period clothes could have potentially distracted from the performance. A small issue however, compared to the enormity of the staging’s achievement. A wonder to behold!
Manual Cinema’s Frankenstein is the definition of originality. The way the ‘film’ was composed through different artistic mediums effortlessly fusing to create a single beautiful moving image on screen, with the music and sound effects creating the ‘voice’ and atmosphere, was theatrical innovation at its finest.
The artistry of all involved was of the highest standard and I can only imagine how many hours, days and months must have gone into bringing together a work of such perfection. The on-stage ballet of movement to weave the different scenes of the film together was incredible to see, and every member of the production from the orchestra to the puppeteers performed to the highest level.
Note the EFC pay full ticket price for every show they review. The criteria by which we review and rate shows can be found here.