The set is simple, in fact perfect in its simplicity. Bulbs are suspended from the Traverse ceiling, bathing the stage in a warm glow. On stage, six amps with microphones are all that gives any clue as to the explosive performance that is about to be witnessed on this Scottish debut.
Battersea Arts Centre’s Beatbox Academy Director, Conrad Murray, takes to the stage to tantalise the audience with some beats of his own, before introducing students from Leith Academy (currently taking part in a three-year residency project with the Edinburgh International Festival) to warm-up the audience for what is about to take place.
And so to ‘Make a Monster’ we go.
Frankenstein: How to Make a Monster has been two years in the making and it has been worth every labour of love, much like how Dr Frankenstein probably felt about his monster and Mary Shelley thought of her literary masterpiece. The six young stars of this production are quite sensational and all bring their own unique beatboxing, rapping and singing talents to the fore, combining in a thrilling blend of harmony and vocal gymnastics which to the layman of this artform seem almost impossible.
There is no stand-out performer because they all stand out. Aminita Francis has a gospel quality to her powerful voice, Nadine Rose Johnson brings together both comedy and vocal ability, and Tyler Worthington is an eerily convincing Dr Frankenstein as the cast journey through various chapters of the process of ‘making a monster’. Nathaniel Forder Staple is clearly accomplished, opening the show with wonderful support for the Leith Academy pupils and ABH Beatbox does just what his name suggests, even using his throat to create unique sounds. Finally, Beth Griffin gives a gripping performance, showcasing her acting ability as well as her musical talents as the performers use the 200-year-old text to explore gritty modern-day issues.
But don’t be fooled by the Gothic genre or the gritty topic coverage, this is described as a ‘relaxed performance’, audience members encouraged to take photographs and videos throughout, come and go as they please should they need a drink or a toilet break and at one point, Traverse 1 becomes a rave.
The performance ends with a beat-box battle which is a privilege to behold given the talent on display and once more the crowd rise, only this time it is for a very well-deserved standing ovation.