London Theatre Review: Young Frankenstein

Date Posted: 28/11/2017

"Spectacularly funny, insanely rhythmic, and horrifyingly good"; GLT reviews Young Frankenstein at the Garrick Theatre in London.

As a fan of Mel Brooks and the film Young Frankenstein, I had no doubts that this show would be right up my street, but I had not prepared myself for just how musically fantastic it would be.

Heading into the Garrick Theatre I was expecting the show to be all about the comedy, with, dare I say it, slightly mediocre music. But right from the beginning when the curtains lifted, and Hadley Fraser as Frederick Frankenstein dressed in a white lab coat, springing about the stage, started singing The Brain, I began to realise that this show would tick all the boxes.

For those who are unfamiliar with the story, Young Frankenstein follows the story of Frederick Frankenstein, the grandson of Victor Frankenstein, who, despite asking everyone to pronounce his last name ‘Stine’ and not ‘Stein’ in the attempt to escape his heritage, finds himself in Transylvania, in Victor’s lab, continuing his grandfather’s work in bringing the dead back to life. Of course, no comedy horror story would be complete without a sidekick and a love interest (or two), and that’s exactly what this show has. 

I have to say, I was expecting comedian Ross Noble, who plays Igor, to be the best thing about the show, but to be honest every single character in the show is equally as brilliant. Summer Strallen who plays Inga is exceptional and having the ability to sing and dance whilst on a moving and rather wobbly stage cart has got to be congratulated. During the song Roll In The Hay, you’ll physically feel out of breath watching, as she swings her body around effortlessly.

The company of Young Frankenstein 2. Credit Manuel Harlan

Pictured: The cast of Young Frankenstein (photo credit: Manuel Harlan).

Lesley Joseph as Frau Blucher plays the role seamlessly and gains some of the biggest laughs from the audience. Her rendition of He Vas My Boyfriend is a personal highlight. Dianne Pilkington as the overbearing and silky sweet Elizabeth Benning, the fiancé, can belt out a tune and is hilarious, especially when she ends up falling in love with… I won’t spoil it. Shuler Hensley as The Monster has a fine pair of dancing feet on him and plays the undead creature with style. Even the hilarious and random scene with the blind Hermit, played by Patrick Clancy has everyone in stitches.

The sets for the show are some of the best I’ve seen on the West End, creating the spooky yet comedic scenes with green lighting, sparklers lighting up the auditorium, rotating doorways and a platform that lifts some of the characters up to the ceiling of the stage as they continue to act from a great height.

The thing that impressed me the most was the singing and dancing and from the noise of the audience’s whoops, whistles and applauses, I can only assume that everyone else was as equally wowed. The cast’s version of Puttin’ on the Ritz is especially glitzy and has everyone tapping their toes, and for fans of the film, you’ll find yourself joining in at the iconic parts where The Monster attempts to sing his lines.

Lesley Joseph credit Manuel Harlan

Pictured: Lesley Joseph at Frau Blucher (photo credit: Manuel Harlan).

The essence of Mel Brooks is forever on the stage with the cast too, and the wit is tuned with such precision that it feels as though you could easily be watching the original famous film, starring the incredible Gene Wilder and Marty Feldman. Although neither are around to see the show, I have to say I think they would be very pleased with it. And it’s no surprise that Brooks is in mind when watching, for he wrote the book, music and lyrics, which explains why it is so incredibly funny and musical.

I would note, however, that the show is, expectedly, aimed at a more adult audience, with sexual references being thrown left, right and centre. Therefore, bringing youngsters is probably not ideal, but the choice is yours.

The show is pure genius and is honestly like nothing else in the West End you’ll see.

Young Frankenstein is currently playing at the Garrick Theatre in London’s West End, and is taking bookings until September 2018. Group rates are available. www.youngfrankenstein.co.uk 

Reviewed by Laura Sexton
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