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Review: Young Frankenstein

Show with a
big cart:
Fraser, Noble
(centre) and
Strallen
PICTURES:
GERAINT LEWIS

REVIEW

Young Frankenstein

The Garrick, London,

★★★★✩

MEL Brooks fans get exactly what they expect. You can feel comedy’s 91-year-old living legend in every madcap second of this musical, his and Thomas Meehan’s adaptation of his 1974 horror movie spoof.

The surprise is comedian Ross Noble, making his West End musical debut as Frankenstein’s hunchback assistant Igor. Dressed in a black medieval cassock, he is the funny-as-hell foil to Hadley Fraser’s serious brain scientist Frankenstein.

‘That’s Fronkensteen,’ Fraser’s character insists, keen to distance himself from his crazy grandfather and his notorious experiments.

Brains, not dead bodies, are Frankenstein’s — sorry, Fronkensteen’s — thing.

Cue the lyric ‘There is nothing like a brain’, sung to a tune not a million miles from that South Pacific classic There Is Nothing Like A Dame. The other surprise, for those who didn’t know, is that Brooks is a brilliant songwriter.

Noble, meanwhile, proves he is not just an ugly face. He can dance, too. This is no small thing with a character who stoops like a chimpanzee and walks like a crab. It’s all the more impressive given director Susan Stroman’s drilled-to-the-hilt choreography.

Young Frankenstein wasn’t quite the monster hit of Brooks’s other screen-to-stage adaptation The Producers when it ran on Broadway.

But the show — also starring Lesley Joseph as housekeeper Frau Blucher — packs more laughs into the first 20 minutes than most manage in hours.

Frau factor: Lesley Joseph

There are two kinds of running gag that define a Brooks production: one is full of sophisticated vulgarity, much of it connected here to Summer Strallen’s leggy lab helper Inga; the other is that, deep down, everyone wants to be in a musical. Even the monster sings and dances in a top hat and tails. If he wasn’t green, it’d be comedy gold.

REVIEW

Young Frankenstein

The Garrick, London,

HHHH✩