Monster Makers, Pick Me Up Theatre, John Cooper Studio, 41 Monkgate, York, October 23 to 26
“THEY did such a good job with Thrill Me, I knew that this was the company I wanted to premiere Monster Makers in the UK,” said writer-composer Stephen Dolginoff.
Pick Me Up Theatre staged the New Yorker’s murder musical two-hander in January 2018 at York Medical Society.
Now they darken the doors of the John Cooper Studio with a “triple feature horror show”, and once more it is a job well done by Mark Hird’s multi-role-playing cast of five, Andrew Isherwood, Alan Park, Darren Lumby, Tony Froud and Emma Louise Dickinson.
Designer Robert Readman has turned the black-box studio side on, with seating on an angle to the left and right and on the mezzanine level above, from where musical director Sam Johnson surveys all from his keyboard.Entrances on to a black-painted, revolving stage are made through a seemingly tight side door, adding to the sense of suspense or surprise as to who might enter next.
Dolginoff tells three “monstrously true” horror stories behind the making of landmark horror films through a combination of often witty dialogue, B-movie exaggeration and storytelling, emotional songs.
First up, German director FW Murnau (Isherwood) must face Bram Stoker’s furious widow, Florence (Dickinson), in court as she accuses him of stealing Dracula for 1922’s Nosferatu, with lead actor Max Shreck (Froud) showing a moral decency beyond the shifty “THEY did such a good job with Thrill Me, I knew that this was the company I wanted to premiere Monster Makers in the UK,” said writer-composer Stephen Dolginoff.
Next, maverick make-up artist Jack Pierce (Lumby) comes up against autocratic director James Whale (Isherwood) as he strives to convert Boris Karloff (Froud) into Frankenstein’s Monster.
Lastly, Peter Cushing (Froud) knocks the final nails into Hammer Horror’s coffin, making a Frankenstein and Dracula film simultaneously with a paltry budget, an unflappable director (Isherwood’s Terence Fisher], a scene-stealing stuntman (Lumby), doubling stoically and silently for the absent Christopher Lee, and the ever-willing, busty Victoria (Dickinson).
Isherwood’s trio of roles is the stand-out, Froud’s urbane Cushing is a joy too, while Dickinson, Park and Lumby add to the gothic, graveyard humour of this monster smash.
Review copyright of The Press, York