Comedian Jack Heal stars in this original modern retelling of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, played out through a series of interconnected one liners and gags. It's a comedy horror romance, with what Heal describes as "GCSE drama-inspired" moves to accompany a voiceover narration threaded through the show.
The story centres around Heal's job at a zoo, where he meets a girl, falls rather in love, and then uncovers a dark secret which parallels the original gothic tale. It does all this in a genuinely interesting and quirky style, maintaining a brooding sense of tension beneath the jokes.
But by its nature, the idea of using a string of one liners to tell the story – rather than build up a consistent narrative flow – makes it a bit hit and miss. Heal is aware of this, it seems, frequently accepting when a gag falls flat. His self-deprecation and humility mean that even when the jokes don't land, there is still a feeling of empathy towards our lovestruck protagonist.
The show works in an intimate environment (not helped in this instance by the intermittent disruptive whooping and hollering of a lively quiz show on at the same time – but you work with what you have on these occasions). The plot can be hard to follow at times, as Heal goes off on a tangent with pun after pun, but at his best he sets the scenes really well – putting you in the moment with the help of an array of sound effects, background music and a lovely flipchart. There is clear potential for this genre of storytelling-through-gags.
Overall Frankenstein's Love Monster is great fun. Heal has crammed the hour with as many puns, visual gags and callbacks as you could hope for. The audience is on board for the most part (with the exception of a few groan-inducing puns and a very niche reference to a former Nigerian international footballer which, although by no means a bad joke, appeals to a very specific demographic). The jokes are relentless, and it's the sort of show where you might shake your head knowingly at one of them then fall about laughing the next.