phone mail2 facebook twitter play whatsapp
Advertisement
Pure Expression

Follow Frankenstein

21 February 2018 Suzanne Frost

2018 marks the 200th anniversary of the publishing of Frankenstein. Various events celebrate the remarkable Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin, cast out by society for being the mistress of the already married poet Percy Shelley, writing Frankenstein during a Laudanum-fuelled trip to Geneva, when the notorious Lord Byron urged everyone present to write a ghost story. The men, despite being far more established writers, didn’t produce anything of lasting value. The 18 year old Mary, however, wrote a staple of horror literature, today often credited with pretty much inventing the science fiction genre.

She gave life to two prototypes of Gothic fiction: the obsessed tortured genius scientist and the undead monster suffering from rejection. Her novel inspired countless films, television series and video games and influenced pop culture from Rocky Horror Picture Show to Blade Runner, not to mention countless Halloween costumes.
 
Pure Expression is an immersive theatre company that reimagines classic stories in unique environments such as libraries, museums and galleries. Frankenstein is a contemporary adaptation of Mary Shelley's novel, a site-specific experience combining theatre, sound design and installations all over Kensington Central Library.

 
The show is a very unusual piece of theatre, an acoustic experience that persuades the participants to stretch their imagination muscles. The performance takes place in absolute silence; no sound will disturb the regular ongoings of the library. The entire story will evolve in your head. In groups of 20, you are provided with headphones and mp3 players that all get set off at the same time and just as your brain gets engulfed in a dark gloomy electro soundscape, a very tall, dark man materialises, seemingly out of nowhere, and wordlessly motions to follow him.
 
And so it begins, up and down through Kensington Library, into dark secluded corners where a small lit dolls house represents the Frankenstein family home in Geneva. The death of his beloved mother sends young Victor Frankenstein off on an obsessive quest to spark life in dead matter, and his university years take us to the libraries main hall, frantically leafing through anatomy books. Down we go into the basement where the dimly lit lecture hall of the library makes for a sufficiently creepy anatomy room where Frankenstein succeeds to bring a body back to live, creating the monster that will hunt him – and us – through meeting rooms, the archives of Kensington Library in the basement and even up onto the roof, where the show down, the final battle between creator and creation, takes place.



Pure Expression work with the simplest of effects, torch lights creating long spooky shadows, props appearing out of nowhere, a little toy rocking horse representing Victor’s baby brother William and a wooden drawing dummy, grotesquely distorted, becomes the murdered Elisabeth.

While theatre tries to reach all the senses, sight is usually the most dominant as we sit and observe. Here, the focus is shifted to acoustics and as you concentrate on the music and the voices coming from your headphones, your sense of hearing is refined, concentration turns inwards, a sensation of being completely inside your head. Sound is explored more and more in theatre as a means of story telling these days, one prime example being The Encounter by Complicité, a revolution of 3D sound bringing the Brazilian rain forest straight into your head.  It is definitely a very interesting sensation and, even though other audience members are going through the same motions, it is not a shared experience but an isolated, meditative one. As you retreat into your headspace, you are alone with your imagination.



As we run through the library archives, chasing a monster between rows and rows of books, names of countless famous authors drifting by in alphabetical order, the experience becomes almost a celebration of books themselves. You can even smell that unmistakeable smell of old dusty pages. And it celebrates reading or immersing yourself alone in a story, reminding us that all books only come alive with the imagination of the reader.
 
Frankenstein by Pure Expression Theatre is at Kensington Central Library 20 & 22 February at 59m and 6.30pm. Tickets from £6.
 
Advertisement

Most popular

What to See at The Cinema

What to See at The Cinema

Your go-to guide to what's on the silver screen
Advertisement
Win entry to Kew Gardens with cream tea for two!

Win entry to Kew Gardens with cream tea for two!

Make the most of that springtime buzz you’re feeling.
Advertisement
Win a Tate membership and get unlimited free access to every exhibition!

Win a Tate membership and get unlimited free access to every exhibition!

The membership includes access to the acclaimed 'The EY Exhibition: Van Gogh and Britain'.
Advertisement
Where to Drink: Rooftop Bars in London

Where to Drink: Rooftop Bars in London

Where to spend those suh-uh-ummer nights
Advertisement
The Best Poetry and Spoken Word Events in London

The Best Poetry and Spoken Word Events in London

Whether you're performing on stage or watching your faves, we've got the lowdown on the best places for a poetry fix
London’s Best Alternative Festivals 2019

London’s Best Alternative Festivals 2019

Proving music festivals don't need to hog all the limelight
Top Exhibitions of the Week

Top Exhibitions of the Week

The place to come for all the best current exhibitions in London...
Top Theatre of the Week

Top Theatre of the Week

Where to get the best of new theatre openings in London
Free Festivals in London 2019

Free Festivals in London 2019

Festivals you can enjoy without burning a hole in your pocket
London’s Best Florists

London’s Best Florists

For the coolest, most creative, luxurious blooms around

Your inbox deserves a little culture!!

Advertisement