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Nicola Wright

Second Look: YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN at the Garrick Theatre

Young Frankenstein It has been over forty years since Mel Brooks brought 'Young Frankenstein' to our screens, and it quickly became a cult classic. But, I wondered, is it still relevant to a new generation, will the musical version live up to its film predecessor? Would innuendo and jokes about forking and knockers still make an audience of today laugh, or does politically correctness frown upon such humour?

With Mel Brooks penning the music, lyrics, and the book ( co- written by Thomas Meehan), thankfully the answer is, 'yes'! This newer version of the 2007 Broadway show is the perfect comedy musical and the sillier the moments, the harder the audience of all ages, laughed.

The story of Frederick Frankenstein, himself a professor of neurology who inherits his grandfathers Transylvanian Gothic estate, is of course a delightful parody of the early Frankenstein film of the 1930's. Having bid farewell to his fiancée the uptight Elizabeth, Frankenstein sets off on his journey and on the way meets the trusted Igor and Inga, (cue the knockers jokes) when the three reach the mansion Frau Blucher is there to greet them and to persuade Frankenstein to continue with her 'boyfriends' work. In the performance I saw both Frau Blucher and Inga were played by understudies, Kelly Ewins-Prouse and Gemma Scholes who were both superb in their roles.

Igor is dispatched to find a brilliant brain to implant into a seven foot corpse and returns with an 'abi normal' one, so with flashing lights, an abundance of smoke and a touch of pyrotechnics , the monster is created. Nic Greensheids is perfect in the role, the scene with the lonely blind hermit (Patrick Clancy) complete with visual gags and his tap dancing routine in 'Putting On The Ritz' when he is 'revealed' to the audience endears everyone to this gentle giant.

Hadley Fraser as Frankenstein is faultless, and the relationship between him and Igor (Cory English) is a comic partnership of master strokes and perfect timing, the audience relishing in moments when the fourth wall is broken, in true Mel Brooks style. The age old 'walk this way gag' was milked for all its worth and and still brought the house down, as if heard for the first time. Dianne Pilkington as Elizabeth Benning, has a voice of an angel with razor sharp delivery and shines with two of the best songs in the show.

Skillful direction and choreography by award winning Susan Stroman who also directed Mel Brook's 'The Producers' and Beowulf Boritt's set design which stays faithful to the film, should ensure that Young Frankenstein continues to delight audiences, for a very long time. There are times when even the most cynical need a bit of light relief and shameful silliness, and this is the perfect mix to bring a belly laugh to most, and at the very least, a smile to all.

Young Frankenstein