Cruel Britannia After Frankenstein At Edinburgh Fringe

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Transgender playwright and performer Kristen Smyth’s debut solo theatre show premieres at Edinburgh Fringe’s home of new writing theSpace on The Mile.

Cruel Britannia: After Frankenstein is a gritty and provocative reimagining of Mary Shelley’s seminal novel. Set primarily in 1980s London, the turbulent Thatcher years provide a startling backdrop for this highly anticipated new production. Director Cohan leads a team of majority transgender and non-binary creatives to bring Smyth’s hauntingly poetic text to life. Imagine eighties club culture and hooliganism being transformed into a poetic retelling of Frankenstein. Smyth has used time and distance as her friend to create a modern day epic that will resonate with anyone disturbed by a world that seeks to make monsters out of queerness and transgression instead of joyfully embracing one’s freedom to be truly authentic.

It was actor Tom Hardy who first suggested Kristen ‘take a stab’ during an improv night, ultimately starting her on the path to becoming a theatre-maker who recently gained critical acclaim for her first role as Queen Jesus in the Melbourne production of Leith-based trans playwright Jo Clifford’s The Gospel According to Jesus, Queen of Heaven. Originally from London, but now calling Australia home, Kristen Smyth has recently completed her Masters in Writing for Performance at Victorian College of the Arts, and is well on the way to establishing herself as one of the most important contemporary voices in Australian theatre.

Themes of hidden identity run deeply within both Shelley’s personal and professional life, providing Smyth and the creative team a potent source-text to draw inspiration from. Shelley’s work has become a lifeline for those whose souls search for belonging in dark times and in this we find an undeniable link between Frankenstein and the transgender experience. Shelley, who first published Frankenstein anonymously in 1818, is widely thought to have been queer herself – after the death of her husband she wrote to a friend advising that “being afraid of men, [she] was apt to get tousy-mousy for women”

Kristen Smyth comments:

“Shelley’s Frankenstein speaks to a narrative I think queer audiences will identify with. Abandonment, the drive for friendship, family disintegration and loyalty, and then to place this in a world of eighties hooligans and London Soho in 1983 seemed to be a powerful proposition, one I think Edinburgh audiences will rise to.

Cruel Britannia: After Frankenstein – written and performed by Kristen Smyth

Dates: 2-17 August 2024 (not 11), 8:30pm

Venue: theSpace on the Mile, 80 High St Edinburgh

Duration 55 minutes

www.cruelbritannia.com

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