Review of 'Young Frankenstein'


Mel Brooks' sprinkles some more magical theatre pixie dust in adapting his film “Young Frankenstein” as a musical. This is the first UK production and has been favourably received.

Frederick Frankenstein (“FRONkenSTEEN”, if you please) is an expert on the brain in New York who inherits his father's castle in Transylvania. Frederick disavows the work his father did on reanimating the dead but nonetheless leaves his fiance Elizabeth Benning at the dockside as he travels to Europe. There he is met by the deeply odd Igor (“EYEgor” with his ever moving hump) who has hired an assistant: The buxom and freely yodelling Inga. At the castle he is introduced to the mysterious the housekeeper Frau Blücher (cue sound of horses whinnying here). Very quickly Frederick becomes convinced that his father may have been onto something in his research so resumes his fathers work. Igor manages to find a body and a brain which they are in short order able to bring to life. Things quickly get out of hand (!) with concerned villagers at the gate wondering what is going on and a surprise visit of Elizabeth precisely when Frederick and Inga are discovering the secrets of the flesh…

To get it out the way: Yes, it is most definitely shallow, simple, silly, rude, crude (with a truly hefty amount of sexual innuendo), and irreverent but it is also a lot of fun. Amongst all of this chaos there are amazing performances by the cast particularly Summer Strallen as Inga with an amazing voice, the hilarious comedian Ross Noble as Igor whose comic sense of timing truly shines here, and, of course, Hadley Fraser as Frederick channelling his inner Gene Wilder. Surprisingly late in the second act even Shuler Hensley as the monster demonstrates an amazing vocal talent and it is a shame we do not hear much of it.

The sets are minimalist but serve the fast and furious pace of the musical very well. The effects during the scenes in the laboratory are quite good and a lot of fun with lots of flashes and explosions. It was also nice that the production periodically plunges the auditorium (unusually) into complete blackness (not even an exit sign lit) which really heightens the impact of key scenes.

The generally forgettable music is light and, of course, full of silly jokes. “Please Don't Touch Me” from Elizabeth is an early surprise in act 1 and quite amusing. “Roll in the Hay” is another great fun number as Frederick, Igor and Inga ride in a hay cart to the castle (with the expected level of licentious-nous). All of the ensemble dancing numbers are well choreographed and suitably underplayed. The really excellent “Puttin' on the Ritz” scene in the second act featuring the monster's hilarious “Puttin' on the Ritz” refrain is not one I will soon forget.

I found myself lightly chuckling throughout though very seldom was it laugh-out-loud amusing. The humour is most definitely dated but perhaps that is part of the charm - A slightly silly, amateurish feeling to the whole production that takes pains not to take itself seriously including knowing nods throughout to “B movie” troupes. Is it too much? Perhaps. But if you want a fun, stupid, light musical you can't go wrong here…

Rating: “Really good but I have some issues”

Review Date: 2017-11-02

Garrick Theatre

Location: London (England)

Address: 2 Charing Cross Rd, London WC2H 0HH ENGLAND

Public Transport: TUBE Leicester Square

Telephone: +44 (0) 330 333 4811


Located on the busy Charing Cross Road directly south of Leicester Square Tube station this small theatre has grandiose designs with a magnificent frontage. Much of the theatre is located below ground with entrance to the circle (first balcony) directly off of the small lobby. Recently refurbished the interior is a pleasant light beige with gold accents. Acoustics are somewhat compromised by frequent trains running beneath the auditorium.