I’m pleased to present a blog post by another writer today – Sally-anne McWilliam. I met Sally-anne through my college course, she’s a graduate of it, whereas I’ve got a few more modules to go yet. She set up and runs What About Me Theatre Arts.
“Billed as a ‘terrifying marriage of music and drama’ this reimagining of Shelley’s book promised much but delivered little. Television viewers had been tantalised for weeks with snippets of Elizabeth (Lacey Turner) seemingly having second thoughts about her wedding to Victor Frankenstein (Andrew Gower), a wedding that the ordinary person could actually participate in. Intrigued as to how this would work I had apparently set my expectations too high.
The setting for the marriage was Kirkstall Abbey, perfect to enhance the gothic undertones of the play but its impact was made redundant by all the technical stage regalia. Those who dreamed up the idea had thought of everything music, drama, dance, special effects, community involvement – but that was ultimately the problem with this piece as it resulted in a disjointed feel. The concept of inviting a whole community to participate in this cultural event was fantastic but was it really necessary to bombard them with so many different types of performance that for the majority of the time the audience looked completely bewildered. Despite brave attempts by the actors to create a ripple of enthusiasm in the crowd, a Glastonbury style atmosphere did not appear to be recreated. Although the music used was instantly recognisable, I felt the creators were trying too hard to tap into the popularity of the jukebox musical and the performances were not always that successful. Despite audience participation being the unique selling point for this event, overall there didn’t appear to be too much involvement of the crowd apart from coming dressed as wedding guests and being asked to take photographs of the happy couple after the ceremony had taken place.
So was there anything good about this spectacle? Definitely! The outstanding moment for me (which was far more chilling than the monster’s performance) was when the whole audience performed dance moves that they had previously been taught by Phoenix Dance Theatre. The sight of such a large body of people moving as one sent shivers down my spine – so simple yet so stunning. In addition, Lacey Turner did a fabulous job as Elizabeth but then being involved with mad men appears to be her bread and butter as an actress. And finally, the fact that someone decided to attempt this at all is wonderful for the arts and I am sure that the more these types of events are experimented with a true spectacle will one day be seen.”