Theatre review - Frankenstein, Harris Library, Preston

Frankenstein (c) Pure Expression

Frankenstein (c) Pure Expression - Credit: Archant

Paul Mackenzie experiences a production of Frankenstein that is out of the ordinary.

The people in the Harris Library in Preston must have been mighty perplexed. Some were there to read, others to study or browse the internet when in walked a long haired chap in a black frock coat. He seemed anxious, and it was nothing to do with the 20 people following him who were all wearing headphones and watching him intently. His state of mind was more affected by the over-sized creature he had unleashed on the world and which was now wreaking its vengeance by murdering his family one by one.

Had they asked, those confused people in the library would have discovered that this was an innovative piece of immersive theatre. And that striking chap dressed in black was Victor Frankenstein.

The audience followed the action around the building – in and out of the public areas, then down to the musty basement – and heard the voices and an atmospheric soundscape by musician Taz Modi through those headphones. Objects from the gallery were used to good effect as Mary Shelley’s gothic classic was given a contemporary and inventive twist in its 200th anniversary year.

Toby Osmond – who was Thomas Cromwell in Channel 5’s Henry VIII and His Six Wives – managed superbly in a tricky role with no audio clues and members of the public going about their business on and around his stage. His haunted face conveyed the perfect mix of wonder and terror.

The production, which abridged the story neatly into just under an hour, was by London-based Pure Expression who specialise in site-specific performances in libraries and museums.

After three nights at Manchester Central Library and one at the Harris, Pure Expression are taking Frankenstein back to their home town London for a week at the Victoria and Albert Museum in April.

For details, tickets and more information, go to their website,