Friday, 20 October 2017

Storytelling: Frankenstein

Tonight, the Crick Crack Club was back at Rich Mix, where Ben Haggerty, one of the co-founders of the club, was retelling the story of Frankenstein. Suitably spooky in this spookiest of months.. and I can think of no better performer to set the scene! Also a while since I've been to the Crick Crack Club, and I did miss it..

I was having a fun time at after-work drinks in the office, actually, helping them to empty their wine stash - and was loath to leave. Dragged myself away after my second glass.. wasted a couple of minutes looking for the phone I'd just put in my bag.. and legged it up the road, only just in time for the bus, which, mercifully, was stopped at the lights as I ran for the stop! With minutes to spare, we passed Rich Mix - I got off just after, and once I was in, made my way straight upstairs, where I knew the event was happening. I should've read the email more carefully, which said to pick up our tickets downstairs.. they have had a desk upstairs in the past. Anyway, I appealed to the lady at the door, who said it was ok on my phone.. then I couldn't find it.. but I found the email giving directions, which confirmed the date, and bless her, she said that was good enough.

I took a seat in the front, as usual - somewhat to the side, as it was by now quite full. The stage was suitably Gothically attired..

Tonight, Ben Haggerty - in his customary black - was accompanied by Sianed Jones on accordion, guitar, and violin. She was dressed to match him, black coat and trousers - and each had a top hat, to fit the period of what he described as the first modern fairytale.

Now, we all know the story of Frankenstein, yes? The mad scientist, concocting weird experiments in his cellar, running bolts of lightning through to bring his horrific creation to life. Appalled at what he's done, he then rejects the creature, which, left to find its own way in the world, seeks companionship and a purpose, but is rejected by everyone else as well, terrified as they are at its horrific appearance. Despairing and bitter, it seeks revenge on its creator, for bringing it into the world and abandoning it.

The genius of Frankenstein, however, isn't in the horror of bolts of lightning, or the appearance of the creature - it became clear, as we listened to Ben Haggerty describe in great detail the family and upbringing of the scientist, and how he went off to study science at university - as we got to know him as a person: and later, as we got into the mind of his creation: that the greatest horror of this classic story is the loneliness. The irresponsibility of bringing life to a creature and then abandoning it to its own devices. Its shattering loneliness as it's shunned by everyone. The terror as it comes relentlessly after its maker, and the desolation of the final scenes, in the far north, and the creature's suicide, following the death of its creator.

Mary Shelley was only 18 when she wrote this, y'know. What an imagination she had.. and indeed, as Ben Haggerty explained to us at the end, we should read the original, which is a fabulous mix of different perspectives. Even includes a piece about the rights of women in Turkey, apparently! (Mary's mother was the feminist, Mary Wollenstonecraft, you know, and even though she died when Mary was very young, her father brought her up with the same liberal principles. So, as they say, it wasn't off the stones she got it!) And what a sensitive and thrilling portrayal we got from Ben Haggerty - I knew I was right to look forward to this!

They're trying to raise money to commission new pieces; I didn't have much cash on me, but gave them a little, dropped into the top hat that was proffered as we left. Go Crick Crack.. Happy 30th birthday!

Was just in time for the bus back, and got a paper on it, which someone had left behind. So, rather a good night all round - I hardly ever pick up the free paper these days, with hardly ever taking the TubeTomorrow, Spooky London Pubs is off to a "Pre-Hallowe'en" Psychic Fair at the King and Queen pub, just down the road from me. Free entry - well, I couldn't say no to that! Can always leave if it's not interesting. That's in the afternoon - in the evening, I'm off to Oslo. The play, not the city! (Despite all my Scandic jaunts of late!) Taking place in the Harold Pinter Theatre, it tells the story of the Oslo peace accords. Has rave reviews. Cheapest tickets were with Amazon Tickets.

On Sunday, I'm with Walking in London (a Funzing group) for Southwark's Saucy Secrets.. Hope I can make this one in time! If the day is terrible, I'll go to the cinema instead - I have done the film list.

On Monday, back with the Crick Crack Club - at Soho Theatre this time, with Nell Phoenix telling us all about Tricksterland: a favourite theme of hers!

On Tuesday, the London European Club (first time in ages!) - we're off to the Barbican for a dance production by the Michael Clark Company.

On Wednesday, Walking Victorian London is doing a walk called Alexander Pope's The Dunciad.

On Thursday, Up in the Cheap Seats is off to Albion, at the Almeida. Then I'm back to Ireland for the weekend again - hopefully, by that stage they'll have cleared the roads following Storm Ophelia. And Storm Brian, which is due to hit this weekend..

On the 30th, I finally get to see Apologia, at Trafalgar Studios - London Dramatic Arts was going to this a while ago, but it was far too expensive on that occasion. Well, that's what you get for having Stockard Channing and Laura Carmichael in it! Amazon Tickets again.

And finally, I'm hoping for a nicely scary Hallowe'en.. when I heard that they were doing the first-ever stage production of The Exorcist - and what's more, it's on in the Phoenix Theatre, right behind the office.. well, that was fate, wasn't it?! I jumped to get a ticket for that, as soon as they went on sale - after all, Hallowe'en has to be its most popular night! Jenny Seagrove plays the mother of the demonically possessed teen..

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