Frankenstein at Southwark Playhouse

A classic horror exposing some gothic fiction. There are many ways to describe the English author Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. Astonishingly, I’ve never read Frankenstein. My knowledge reaches cliche stereotypes surrounding the story itself. The fearless monster, with larger physical features such as the infamous bolts bulging from either side of the monster’s neck.

Nevertheless, National Youth Theatre’s adaption at Southwark Playhouse goes beyond the murmurs of a monster. Transforming this 19th-century novel into a story you will pay to listen to in the 21st century. With a pleasing and refreshing twist using modern technology and audience participation while exploring artificial intelligence. A topic which has become prominent in our society, adapted for the stage by Carl Miller (Wasted) and directed by Emily Gray (Artistic Director of Trestle Theatre).

We’re introduced to Sonny Poon Tip’s character from the beginning as he leads us through each moment. Not your average storyteller, but a character you look forward to hearing from. His subtle and smooth transitions are assisted by the rest of the supporting cast. Sonny remains as the captain steering the ship for the most part of this adaption. Ensuring we knew everything that was to come, the past experiences and indicating to the future.

Without a doubt, the stand out stars for me are Ella Dacres and Sarah Lusack as Doctor Victoria Frankenstein and Shell. You won’t be introduced until the middle of act 1 but it’s worth the wait. Allowing a build-up for other character development and storylines surrounding them. Although, there is a feeling that the play often jumps from scenes to scenes and you have to pay attention to every moment to ensure it isn’t an essential part of the final story puzzle. The pace, however, is not hard to keep up with.

There are some scenes which add less value to the storyline. Sarah Lusack manages to portray a convincing yet appropriately chilling robot who is keen on indulging every part of human life while consuming all the information possible. Tiwalade Ibirogba-Olulode portrays another standout character adding light-hearted humour throughout.


The inclusion of refugees, same-sex love added another level to the storyline with relevant conversations. Adding towards our complex society and demonstrating human’s narcissistic traits, particularly with how we deal with identity as a society. My favourite part of this production was the impressive use of VR headsets in the second act. It came as a surprise and added a modern twist into the storyline. This extra element did not cheapen any of the previous performance or the storyline or appear gimmicky.

Don’t miss out on the experience and the retelling of a classic novel. Book tickets for Frankenstein. Runs until 30 November at Southwark Playhouse.

Read more theatre reviews here.

Image credit & © Helen Murray


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