Reviewed by Louise Watts
You cannot beat watching outdoor theatre on a beautiful summer evening with the sun shining, glass of wine in hand and the freedom for the children to move about as they please due to the absence of rigid seating plans. At my local theatre, The Hawth in Crawley, we are lucky enough to be able to do just that. With their beautiful Amphitheatre situated in the woods, you can enjoy the incredible performances whilst watching the sun go down.
Last evening, I attended to see Illyria perform the classic “Frankenstein” by Mary Shelley. One of those names we all know but do we know the actual story or just the fact that it is about a man-made monster? I took my family along so we could enjoy the evening together. The children ranged in age between 5 years and 21 years (and everything in between!!). The small cast of 5 brought this show to life along with Ben Wiles who composed the fantastic music and songs that we heard throughout the show.
There were several fantastically funny songs, including Edward Simpson’s rendition of “Making Babies”. He was hilarious throughout the show and certainly brought the comedy element alive in what can otherwise be a seriously dark story. As Victor’s best friend Henry Clerval, he truly made the show for me.
Tom Carter-Miles played the part of Frankenstein’s creature to perfection. Assisted by his incredible height he looked and performed the part brilliantly. His voice was incredible also and you really believed at times that he was a monster! On the flip side to that however, you were drawn into the emotional side where he was really a man made “monster” who just wanted to feel and be loved, sadly causing devastation along the way.
Victor Frankenstein, the monster’s creator was played by Richard Blackman. Believable, brilliant and a little hyper intelligent, he created this creature from the darkest of methods. Richard told the life story of Victor really well and by the end, it was apparent what a sad and tragic life he had led with the loss of many very special people assisted by his creation!
The two women actors Jenny Cullen and Rachel Smart were both fantastic. Admittedly there were times when the kids got a little confused as they played more than one role each and I needed to explain the story a little but both women acted superbly. Jenny put in a wonderful performance of Elizabeth, Victor’s “cousin” and later his wife and Rachel played the part of Justine incredibly, framed by Frankenstein’s monster for the death of little William.
The running time was a little over 2½ hours including an interval. The first act was 1½ hours which although long, was necessary to get the audience captivated and desperate for more. The stage was very simple but clever. With the assistance of a few ladders, various different scenes were set and the change between scenes was easy and did not distract from the acting occurring alongside the changes.
The theatre was open inside as usual for drinks and snacks and the staff brought ice creams to the Amphitheatre so you could stay in the outdoors throughout if you wanted to. Picnics, pizza and alcoholic / soft drinks were welcomed and you could bring your own supplies if you preferred. We had a pizza delivered to the theatre before the show started so the children were more than happy.
Rating 5/5 for entertainment, performance and family centred theatre.
For more information and tour dates visit www.illyria.co.uk.
For other shows at The Hawth in Crawley visit hawth.co.uk or call the box office on 01293 553636.
The Hawth, Hawth Avenue, Crawley, Sussex, RH10 6YZ | 01293 553636