Young Frankenstein Is A Treat For All The Family
It might be too early for pantomime season, but it’s never too soon to see Mel Brooks’ ingenious updating of Young Frankenstein delivered as a spoof both of the horror film genre and of the theatricality of stage musicals. It’s ingenious, funny, clever and corny and served by an excellent cast headed by Hadley Fraser channelling Gene Wilder but in finer voice and nimbler tap shoes. Shuler Hensley — for too long missed from the West End — gives the ‘creature’ both heart and soul and the extended ‘Putting on the Ritz’ routine frames him with a fantastic chorus line from the inexhaustible ensemble.
Because it’s more than forty years since the film, most of the audience will come to it brand new, but even for those to whom it’s a classic there’s a real pleasure in recognising the old jokes which come up freshly laundered, and spotting new material expertly crafted by Brooks himself.
All the ingredients are intact: the gothic location, an eerie castle, villagers with torches and pitchforks, Ross Noble’s first rate hunchback with his eyes bulging like Marty Feldman but a clever and sardonic comedy routine that’s all his own. Summer Strallen burlesques the leggy blonde lead and brings ripe Germanic flirting to a climax, and staring down any suggestions she might be ‘past it’, Lesley Joseph makes the horses neigh and the audience cackle as scary housekeeper Frau Blucher for eight energetic shows a week.
There are some good ‘offers’ for family tickets, stand-by and matinee performances, so well worth checking the websites. Either way, it’s the best panto you’ll see before Christmas. Or next Christmas.
Young Frankenstein, Garrick Theatre, Charing Cross Road. Tickets from £20, booking to 29 September 2018.
Last Updated 27 October 2017