Young Frankenstein "silly, witty, fun and clever"
| By Sandra Howell
Do you like Vaudeville? Do you like all-round entertainment; singing, dancing and comedy routines? Then Young Frankenstein is right up your Tin Pan Alley. I think I’ll leave the puns to Mel Brooks, whose tremendous gift for writing sharp, silly, satirical, scripts and songs is perfectly matched by the performances of the talented cast of Young Frankenstein. Mel Brooks is joyfully irreverent, Young Frankenstein doesn’t take itself too seriously, it makes fun of itself as well as the various genres it mocks. It was like watching a series of musical comedy acts, doing their turns in a variety or Vaudeville show.
The hilarious comic double act of the characters Frederick and Igor, in the number “Together Again,” a classic song and dance routine abundant with slapstick, wordplay and general silliness, was performed with perfect comic timing. We sniggered at the visual and verbal innuendos in “Roll in the Hay.” We guffawed at “Please Don’t Touch Me,” which mocks love songs with the opposite message and is accompanied by a very funny routine, which also pokes fun at dance crazes in novelty songs.
“He Vas My Boyfriend” ridicules love songs which normalise abusive relationships, like Billie Holiday’s rendition of “My Man,” in which she expresses her love for her man followed by verses such as “I don’t know why I should, he isn’t true, he beats me too what can I do?” Compare this to Lesley Joseph as Frau Blucher performing “He Vas My Boyfriend.” Joseph sings: “If he had an angry fit, I was the first thing he’d hit, but I didn’t give a s*** He Vas My Boyfriend.” Joseph, an experienced comic actor, knows exactly how to play it, how to use the audience, how to move her body and alter her voice to get us screaming with laughter; with a change of expression, she creates ripples of laughter, gently spreading outwards throughout the theatre. I enjoyed the fun of the silly dance routines in “Transylvania Mania” and the old school top hat and tails tap routine of “Putting on the Ritz,” which doesn’t only send up the tap dancing shows of the 30s and 40s, but also celebrates them.
The experienced and superb cast of Young Frankenstein, allow Mel Brooks to present a masterclass in comedy, which is a silly, witty, fun and clever parody of musical theatre and horror films. It is also a great homage to old school Vaudeville and Variety shows.
Young Frankenstein is booking at the Garrick Theatre through 25 August. Book your tickets here.