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Photo Credit: Michael Brosilow

Manual Cinema’s Frankenstein, Underbelly, Bristo Square (McEwan Hall) – Review

After critically acclaimed runs with ADA/AVA and Lula del Ray, Chicago-born ensemble Manual Cinema returns to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe with a captivating rendition of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. With their unmistakable style and inventive use of media, the company seeks to shed their light primarily on the author's private life and the events that contributed to the shaping of the novel that, 200 years after its first publication, remains just as popular. In the summer of 1816, Mary Shelley and her husband Percy joined the poet Lord Byron at his lakeside villa in Geneva. Having been confined to the…

Summary

Rating

Excellent

Manual Cinema offer a rendition of Mary Shelley's timeless novel with the use of shadow puppetry, projections and live music, focusing on the author's personal life.

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After critically acclaimed runs with ADA/AVA and Lula del Ray, Chicago-born ensemble Manual Cinema returns to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe with a captivating rendition of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.

With their unmistakable style and inventive use of media, the company seeks to shed their light primarily on the author’s private life and the events that contributed to the shaping of the novel that, 200 years after its first publication, remains just as popular.

In the summer of 1816, Mary Shelley and her husband Percy joined the poet Lord Byron at his lakeside villa in Geneva. Having been confined to the villa by a storm, Lord Byron challenged his guests to come up with a ghost story, a challenge that Mary decided to participate in. The previous year, she had lost a new-born daughter, an ordeal believed to be at the foundation of what was initially conceived as a short story, and later becaming the novel we all know. Her tormented motherhood, the pain for the sudden loss and the desire to bring back to life her loved one made Doctor Frankenstein’s project look like an act of compassion, rather than a frenzy of scientific vanity.

This and other vignettes of Shelley’s personal experience are at the core of Manual Cinema’s trademark performance, combining live music, overhead projectors and ingenious mechanical devices with hundreds of shadow puppets – all handled by a hardworking team of nine. Every element of their stagecraft is clearly visible, with the final effort projected onto the white canvas above them.

To celebrate the ageless elegance of the silver screen, the chromatic scale is kept to a minimum and all verbal communication relies on a handful of title cards or the lyrics of a song. More frequently, meaning is conveyed thorough the universal language of visual arts and a highly stylised body language.

Following the steps of Shelley’s visionary scientist, Manual Cinema borrow elements from various artforms, bringing their own extraordinary creature to life. The outcome is unprecedented.

Original Author: Mary Shelley
Director: Drew Dir
Producer: Underbelly and Manual Cinema
Box Office: +44 (0)131 226 0000
Booking Link: https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/manual-cinema-s-frankenstein
Booking Until: 26 August 2019

About Marianna Meloni

Marianna Meloni
Marianna, being Italian, has an opinion on just about everything and believes that anything deserves an honest review. Her dream has always been to become an arts critic and, after collecting a few degrees, she realised that it was easier to start writing in a foreign language than finding a job in her home country. In the UK, she tried the route of grown-up employment but soon understood that the arts and live events are highly addictive.