A show that comes with the tag line “Warning: Maximum Fart & Poop Jokes”, plus the promise of audience members training as henchmen while the ‘mad scientist’ Dr Frankenbum creates a zombie before your eyes, and an awesome, historic venue full of excited kids… what could possibly go wrong?
On entry to the Perth Mess Hall you’re greeted by Dr Frankenbum himself, looking a lot like a real-life Dr. Nefario (of Minions fame). Whitecoat, goggles and eccentricity coming out of his ears, he invites you into the performance space and as adults wrestle to get their cherubs to sit down, you catch a glimpse at some of the homemade props that litter the space.
Things start well. Dr Frankenbum runs through his intro, jam-packed with toilet humour that has the kids in a frenzy. Popular subjects like “Do Mums fart?” and “Why are kids like farts?” are rife. Now the kids are sufficiently wound up, it’s time for some science… Like, high school science. Our host launches passionately into an exuberant lecture on atomic theory. Cleaver anecdotes, slide show and all. A quick glance around the room and you’ll see squinting kids trying to keep up while their adults whisper their own understanding of what’s going on into their ear. The Doc had lost his crowd but that’s nothing that can’t be fixed with a few cheekily placed fart sound effects!
As Dr Frankenbum waddled around the space letting off a few well timed squeakers, the kids were up on their chairs rocking on their knees laughing like a pack of hyenas. Cool, so that’s atomic theory in the bag, time for states of matter… Which went along in a very similar fashion to our previous lecture. But now it’s time to recruit some henchmen. Dr Frankenbum requests four volunteers from the audience which causes mild hysteria as a group of mixed age kids are picked from the crowd to help with important experiments. Now there’s four happy kids and a room full of mutters “Naw, I wanted to do it.” The Doc cracks on with what is arguably his coolest demo. A canister of dry ice is poured over a collection of balloons to demonstrate how liquids gasses and solids can interact and change each other’s physical state. The young people eat up the drama of this but again, with their dwindling attention spans they’re also almost out the door.
Doctor Frankenbum is a passionate, knowledgeable and inhumanly patient teacher. There’s no doubt that he has the ability to pull this off, perhaps with the help of some skilled writers to help tie together the narrative, which is so quickly sidelined with the way the show is currently constructed. By the time we reach the big finish, the kids are rowdy and ready to leave. Dr Frankenbum attempts to tie up all the loose ends, reminding everyone that we’re here to bring a monster to life. But, it’s all a little too late. A few laughs and then it’s out the door.
The show was mediocre at best, unfortunately, and this left the kids in a semi-hyper, semi-jaded state as they emerged back into to Saturday sun. Probably best to stop for ice cream on the way home.