Underbelly Bristo Square, Edinburgh, Scotland, United Kingdom
Returning to the Fringe with an exciting UK premiere, Manual Cinema (Ada/Ava, Lula del Ray) find a special affinity with Mary Shelley’s gothic story about the reanimation of obsolete materials. Creating their own Frankenstein, against the backdrop of Shelley’s own fascinating and little-told biography, Manual Cinema create a silent movie in front of our eyes.
In their extraordinary trademark style, Manual Cinema use overhead projectors, over 500 shadow puppets, actors in silhouette, and live music to bring this enthralling production to life as a piece of live cinema. In the original novel, the story is told in a series of narrative frames with each frame narrated by a different character. In this ingenious adaptation, each frame of the story is told through a different cinematic genre. Like the Creature itself, the production is a pastiche of different visual idioms scavenged from a century of cinema.
The production also uniquely weaves Mary Shelley’s own biography and how she came to write a novel of such enduring relevance. It introduces her baby, whose essence can be found throughout Shelley’s story of creation and abandonment.
Director Drew Dir comments, I grew up watching the classic Boris Karloff Frankenstein on VHS tapes, and I'd always wanted to give that story the Manual Cinema treatment. It's perfect for our medium: a gothic setting, a mythic story, and a rich cinematic legacy on which to draw. What surprised us was that we began sneaking more and more of Mary Shelley's biography into our adaptation, especially aspects of birth and motherhood that underpin her original novel. Our goal was to pay tribute to Frankenstein's cinematic forebears while situating it in the context of the author's life, giving the story a new spark of life, so to speak. I'm excited to share this with our audiences at Edinburgh and to perform the show in the shadow of an actual castle.