BAC Beatbox Academy: How to Make a Monster
It’s been just over 200 years since Mary Shelley published her gripping novel on the horrors (and wonders) of human nature, and its will to live. Since then we’ve seen countless reimaginings, from Whale’s classic 1931 groaning monster romp to the gruesome cries of Danny Boyle’s production for the National Theatre in 2011. None of these, however, have made a noise quite like the Battersea Arts Centre Beatbox Academy’s Frankenstein: How to Make a Monster – an aurally absorbing production that brings the story back to life.
The production opens with a fairly innocuous warning. Gruesome violence? Rampaging monsters? German farmhands beware? No – simply, “Everything you are about to hear will be from the human mouth.” Immediately, the vibrant hum of metropolitan life and the harsh blowing of the wind come alive in a cacophony of pursed lips, whistles, indistinct chatter and all manner of sounds originating from the humble mouth.
With a combination of smart storytelling via impressive beatboxing, rap and contemporary dance, as well as accompanying narration on the making of the production, Frankenstein: How to Make a Monster has more parts to it than the monster itself. The BAC crew largely ditch Shelley’s original and opt for a more contemporary setting, cycling through different scenes that explore the real monsters of the modern day. The behind-the-scenes moments give an interesting and, at times, poignant insight into the background of the Edinburgh Fringe hit, and how the group uses its special talents to tackle heavy issues such as social media and the negativity it creates.
Anyone looking for a canonical interpretation of Shelley’s novel should perhaps look elsewhere, but How to Make a Monster was never about following a script. Individuality and innovation are the core messages of the production, tapping Shelley’s own revolutionary originality as motivation for the production, and using the language of the novel to question authenticity, validation and what it means to live one’s own life when others want to dictate it.
Photo: Lukas Galantay
How to Make a Monster is available to livestream via BBC iPlayer from 25th October until 24th November 2020. For further information visit here.