In celebration of the 200-year anniversary of Mary Shelley’s epic story ‘Frankenstein’, Cascade Dance Theatre has produced its own version of this revolutionary tale using contemporary dance, spoken storytelling, projection, lighting and live music to tell this harrowing story. Saying this, however, I feel there are some major weaknesses in the show that can be addressed or thought about for future productions.
I celebrate some elements of this production’s simple accessible storytelling. It used minimal sets, simple props and clever choreography to tell its story – rather then over complicating it. At times the show was slightly too much redolent of interpretive dance for my liking. However, it still told a strong story that you could follow throughout the piece. Particularly worth highlighting is the the clever and powerful use of live music. I loved the fact that this dance troop used the music to enhance the choreography and not the other way around, which has become vogue with dance companies.
The performers were very strong and did very well in what dancers should do – they made something incredibly difficult, look easy. Hats off must go to Anna Cabre-Verdiell, in her dead Frankenstein’s Bride scene playing a lifeless corpse The control to remain lifeless while being tossed around by a strong and powerful Jordi Calpe Serrats (Frankenstein), would have been incredibly difficult.
This is a short show with a resultant lack of scenes between the lead characters. This meant that there was not time to establish an emotional relationship with the characters. So when things happened in the narrative, I didn’t believe the characters’ pain or, more importantly, care. One important scene actually caused some sniggers in the audience, not because of bad acting, but because the reaction did not equal our level of caring as an audience.
Another slightly jarring issue was the use of era. This production starts with the audience feeling it is set in the time of the original book, with the dancers wearing period costumes and speaking/writing in old English. However, in the middle of the show there is a scene in a nightclub, with modern ‘adults only’ dancing to modern-dance themed music.
The production has strengths and I look forward to seeing the next work this company presents. I do hope it is longer than an hour next time and has time to develop more depth and include scenes between lead characters to increase audience empathy.
Frankenstein is on tour and is playing:
23rd Nov, Neuadd Dwyfor, Pwllheli
24th Nov, Galeri, Caernarfon
29th, 30th Nov and 1st Dec, Chapter, Cardiff