Battersea Arts Centre (venue)
14 March 2019 (released)
From the imagination of a nineteen year-old over 200 years ago, and with its origins in upper class anxieties around the power of the proletariat, Frankenstein is a story for our time but which was somehow mired in a narrative of prosthetics and period drama. This fresh interpretation by the BAC Beatbox Academy is exceptional.
This production has the force of a defibrillator. Bang up to date, the young performers explore what makes a modern monster. A group of hoodies, those tabloid bogeymen, spring out of the gloom, illuminated by flickering pendant bulbs like post-austerity street lights. There is no backing track, no instruments. The monster comes to life: a heads-scratching, eye-rolling, multi-limbed tangle of emotion neglected even as its creator extols his own genius.
But once alive, it needs to be controlled. What more effective way than self-policing via social media on smart phones, using screens as a shield but then wielded over other's lives, as the cast puts it. Bullying over appearance and peer pressure take their toll. The reality of these young performers' lives is laid before us, even as they create a joyous marvel through vocal percussion, song and rap, the expressive arts of urban youth.
There is an astonishing array of talent in the cast. Each performer has their own style, and the blend is extraordinary. It's so good in fact that it's hard to believe the entire sound is generated by the performers themselves, as the audience is cheerily drawn into the performance. Performers and audience come together to form a new whole, excited and empowered. We are all part of the monster, and it is this internal viewpoint which gives this Frankenstein its power. Go and experience it, it is fantastic.
At Battersea Arts Centre until 29th March.