Frankenstein is a tale of ambition, innocence and neglect. However, The Crick Crack Club has chosen to emphasise its production first and foremost as the story and book that it is. The two man show was recounted by Ben Haggarty, the leader of the company, with the musical accompaniment of Sianed Jones. The Club focuses specifically on the art of storytelling, in particular, fairytales, myths and epics for adults, with Frankenstein being recognised as ‘the first modern myth’. Before the production started, the audience was addressed by Haggarty and given the background about The Club’s philosophies and traditions. This interaction with the audience is a customary ritual derived from the Caribbean, consisting of shouting ‘Crack’ in response to the actors ‘Crick’ — answering any questions arisen to the given name of the company— ending with the shouting of ‘Respect and Honour’, accentuating the company’s ethics. It was a nice way to start off the production, and take advantage of the intimate setting of the York Theatre Royal’s studio.
Within the close setting, using minimal set and lack of props, Haggarty took on the role of narrator, setting the scene as well as fulfilling the roles of all the characters in the story. While remaining faithful to the novel, Haggarty and Jones paid particular attention to the family and childhood of Frankenstein ‘The Scientist’ (as referred to in the play), creating the ideal domesticated lifestyle. This emphasis allowed the despairing ending of the play to appear even more stark and harrowing.
Each word became even more vital to the performance, as they were quite literally the only thing the audience had to engage with.
The entire production was centred, interestingly and effectively, on the words spoken by Haggarty. The absence of other actors, a set, and props, elevated the words to another level of importance. Each word became even more vital to the performance, as they were quite literally the only thing the audience had to engage with. This was reflected through the in-depth descriptions by the narrator, and ultimately, serving as a tribute to its literary origins.
The performance was slow starting, as it was difficult to get to grips with the idea of Frankenstein being performed as a self-aware narrative rather than an acted performance innate as a play. However, once this dynamic had been established, and the action and tension of the story increased, it was completely captivating and demonstrative of the power of storytelling. It is incredibly clever how the visual aesthetics are created by the mind of the viewer. Although I enjoyed this unique shift of emphasis being placed on Frankenstein, as a literary story, the single actor/narration and absence of interacting actors can be a hard pill to swallow, and would not be appealing to all.
Although I enjoyed this unique shift of emphasis being placed on Frankenstein, as a literary story, the single actor/narration and absence of interacting actors can be a hard pill to swallow, and would not be appealing to all.