HK Gruber Frankenstein!!
Beethoven Symphony No. 5 in C minor (from memory)

Marcus Farnsworth chansonnier
Nicholas Collon conductor
Jane Mitchell concept and direction
Will Reynolds lighting design and projections


We present a phantasmagoria, conjuring up the spirits and myths of two early romantic masterpieces: Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and Beethoven’s fifth symphony.

Two hundred years before the advent of ‘immersive theatre’, audiences in post-revolutionary Paris were transfixed by a thrilling and often terrifying form of new theatrical entertainment.  Combining early experiments in optical illusion, ghostly projections and eerie sound effects, these so-called ‘phantasmagorias’ were often shut down by authorities fearful of their convincingly supernatural content.

For the next instalment in our pioneering Orchestral Theatre series, we present a modern-day phantasmagoria inspired by two early romantic masterpieces. The first half of the production transports us to 1816, the so-called ‘year without a summer’, in which Shelley conjured the monster that would haunt the world’s collective imagination to the present day. By turns virtuosic, zany, hilarious and spellbindingly beautiful, HK Gruber’s Frankenstein!! offers an utterly unique perspective on this great literary icon, with chansonnier Marcus Farnsworth leading us through an unsettling collection of surreal and bloodcurdling bedtime stories.

The shadow cast by Beethoven’s fifth is every bit as profound and far-reaching as that of Shelley’s monster: “Splendid beyond measure… this work evokes terror, fright, horror and pain, and awakens endless longing,” wrote Hoffman in his much-quoted review of an early performance. As the powerful mythology around Beethoven took hold in the decades following his death, it was this symphony, above all others, that epitomised the unattainable power of his music. Hear this epoch-making work afresh as we perform it entirely from memory.

Part of The Orchestral Theatre: The Claus Moser Series at Southbank Centre

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