Review – Young Frankenstein, Garrick Theatre

Thursday 23 November 2017

In which Phil acts as advisor to Mel Brooks.

Phil’s having a half-arsed catch up of shows he missed during his confinement. Or you could say a catch up on the seventies since this is his third in a row that steals from classic movies from that decade (Network, The Exorcist). Though this is less of a catch up than a revisiting. Of sorts.

Andrew and Phil made a special trip to the Big Apple with Young Frankenstein as their centrepiece, hoping and expecting it to be the next The Producers. It wasn’t. Though with a Broadway strike on during our stay and running out of shows we wanted to see it was still enjoyable enough for a second visit so we entered and won the opportunity to purchase $26 front row seats.

And so in a case of history repeating itself, Phil did it again, won £20 front row seats won through Today Tix app. At least it means you don’t have the ignominy of having to enter the McDonalds opposite the theatre and wait for the draw as we did in New York.

Of course this isn’t New York. Nothing can be quite as glamorous as having a post-show snifter in a showbiz drinking hole and watching Andrew passing on his personal thoughts on Young Frankenstein to a fellow drinker whilst blissfully unaware he was talking to one of the show’s producers. Or, as the evening dragged on and more grape was imbibed, Phil jumping on an opportunity to pass his own thoughts on it to Mel Brooks – who just happened to be sitting in the booth behind us.

The event is recorded in all its sorry detail here. But if you’re not disposed to click on it Phil will share how he advised Mel that if he ever brought the show to London he should reinstate Phil’s favourite line from his 1974 movie “Taffeta, darling”. Mel had explained that “It just wasn’t getting a laugh so we had to take it out”. It is back in for London and Phil’s thrilled. Phil was too tight to purchase a programme but assumes he’s credited as an advisor.

Anyhoo. What of the show? Well, director/choreographer Susan Stroman’s scaled-down production seems funnier and tighter than Broadway and an absolute hoot and a half. That is if you are partial to corny gags, bad taste, political incorrectness and sublime silliness then Brooks’ show (book also by Brooks and Thomas Meehan) is just the one for you.

The story matters about as much as in a panto. But then it’s teensy part panto with a big dollop of vaudeville anyway.  And all the better for it. Even the painted backcloths from designer Beouwulf Borritt have a whiff of panto/vaudeville/music hall.

An American neurology professor Frederick Frankenstein (Hadley Fraser), grandson of the famous Victor Frankenstein, rocks up in Transylvania to sell the family gothic pile. Here he’s seduced by a leggy local Inga (Summer Strallen) and with the help of a hunchback Igor (Ross Noble) and a horse-scaring housekeeper Frau Blucher (Lesley Joseph), is persuaded to recreate his ancestor’s experiment of reanimating life. And so the monster is reborn in the shape of Shuler Hensley the only original cast member from Broadway. And you probably don’t want to hear how brilliant he is, as he’s left since we saw the show and is now played by Nic Greensheilds.

All the cast prove to be supremely well-selected as all are hilarious in their respective parts. Yes, even Lesley Joseph. Especially Lesley Joseph! Fraser is astonishingly perkily mad from his opening number “The Brain”, and we do hope that Noble who sounds not unlike Ade Edmondson has a contract that involves a physio on 24 hour call. High praise too for Dianne Pilkington as Frederick’s rich girlfriend (she gets the taffeta line) and Patrick Clancy in the dual role of Inspector Kemp and the hermit that leads to one of the show’s funniest scenes.

And of course not only do we have a Strallen – but one who can do the splits whilst bouncing along on a hay cart and yodel at the same time. She’s a Strallen how could she possibly not? What more could you ask for? The Strallometer that’s what. We’d say we’re dusting it off again but we never seem to really put it away.

Almost as much fun as a Zimbabwean street party.



3 Responses to “Review – Young Frankenstein, Garrick Theatre”

  1. Sal Says:

    How delightful to read Phil’s eloquent account of this experience, but what’s this about a ticket lottery? Didn’t a Whinger reader offer on this blog a few entries ago to send a gift of tickets for this very show to lure Phil out of his mysterious temporary retirement? Do all Whinger readers make alluring but insincere, and ultimately nonexistent, offers of tickets, Swiss chalets, Lamborghinis? Small wonder the Whingers have taken to the drink –

  2. Glen Morranjie Says:

    Saw this show in London, (from a dayseat,) and loved it. I laughed a lot but it helps if you have a fairly schoolboy-ish sense of humour for smut, slapstick and puns.

  3. James A Says:

    Most enjoyable show I’ve seen in ages. Long live the Strallens!

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