Directed by Conrad Murray and David Cumming
A Battersea Arts Centre and Beatbox Academy Production
This is an incredibly innovative and skilful reimagining of a classic. A truly bold and daring reworking that Mary Shelley herself would undoubtedly delight in. This Beatbox Academy production uses alchemy in a way that Dr Frankenstein could only dream of as the performers use their unique vocal skills to breathe life into their creation. They cleverly deconstruct Frankenstein to reveal the monsters in present day Society, bringing to life the horrors of social media, false news and our shunning of anything unique or outside our understanding.
BAC Beatbox Academy was established 14 years ago by Conrad Murray and is based at Battersea Arts Centre. Working with 11-29 year olds this is an incredibly inclusive art form that requires only the power and ingenuity of the human voice. There is no need for expensive music lessons or a requirement to buy or hire musical instruments so this is genuinely accessible to all regardless of class or wealth. This vigorous approach to accessibility is obvious throughout the show as the audience is encouraged to take photos and video extracts if they wish. The performance is relaxed and Special K (Kate Donnachie) involves the audience in the classic beatbox Call and Response having taught us the basics Boom Tee Cla. Later in the performance which melds gig theatre with traditional storytelling, the audience are part of an electrifying rave as everyone is up on their feet and dancing.
The ensemble include BAC Beatbox Academy stalwart GLITCH (Nadine Rose Johnson), Beatbox UK champion ADH (Alex Hackett) and relative Beatbox newcomer AZIZA (Aziza Amina Brown). Every performance style is unique and relative to each performer but they are melded together with fluidity and sensitivity. Co-Directors Murray and Cumming ensure that everyone gets to shine while ensuring the piece is cohesive and powerfully choreographed. The cohesion of sounds of birds, traffic and the cacophony of social media chatter are woven into rap and snippets of tracks that help drive the narrative. They move effortlessly between Pachelbel’s Canon, Firestarter by The Prodigy Cardi B‘s WAP, and a fearsome take on Todrick Hall’s CLICK CLACK when they literally turn a spotlight on an audience often validated by their own shares and likes.
The message is clear, we are all better together as opposed to when feeling connected is more important than being connected. BAC Beatbox Academy did a highly effective job of connecting their audience to their message…I think we all left feeling more connected and much the better for it!