Frankenstein: How To Make a Monster @ Traverse

The Battersea Arts Centre's Beatbox Academy present a stunning adaptation of Frankenstein

Review by Chris Dobson | 19 Aug 2019
  • Frankenstein: The Making of a Monster @ Traverse

Since Mary Shelley's debut novel was published in 1818, and adapted for stage five years later, there have been countless adaptations – but none quite like this. Very loosely drawing on themes from Mary Shelley’s book, this production is mainly a platform for Battersea Arts Centre’s Beatbox Academy to show off their extraordinary talents. The six performers – Aminita, Glitch, Wiz-rd, Native, ABH and Grove – display an infectious enthusiasm and energy. Before long, the whole audience is on its feet.

Co-director Conrad Murray warms up the house with a lesson in beatboxing, before handing proceedings over to the young, predominantly black cast. The subsequent hour – which is divided into five parts, or ‘chapters’ – sees each performer dominate the stage in turn. Through song, spoken word and dance, the Beatbox Academy electrify the Traverse, shattering all notions of theatre as intrinsically stuffy or boring.

Audience members are left in awe at the sounds the performers are capable of making. They well deserved the lengthy standing ovation received at the end. Also meriting commendation is lighting designer Sherry Coenen. Evocative use is made of stage lighting to focus on individual performers and, at one point, audience members.

For those who are new to beatboxing, Frankenstein: How to Make a Monster serves as an excellent introduction to this often overlooked artform. To those who are already familiar with the genre, it is a fantastic showcase of some of the UK’s very best beatboxers. Not to be missed.

Frankenstein: How To Make A Monster, Traverse Theatre (Traverse 1), until 25 Aug, various times, £15-22