Pleasance Courtyard (Venue 33)
The premise of this inventively deranged and hugely enjoyable production is that we’re in a post-show question and answer session for the actor’s nine hour, one-man, avant-garde stage adaptation of Frankenstein, a triumphant debrief, with members of the audience prompted to ask about the methodology behind his genius.
Taking further questions from virtually every platform on the internet, the actor is initially smug and relaxed, despite his bedraggled stage costume. Yet as he affords more and more glimpses of his ill-conceived, 85-character magnum opus, the questions grow more testing and his grip on sanity is drastically stripped away, the parallels to the protagonist of his Gothic source material unmistakable.
In stark contrast to his alter-ego’s descent into scrambling justification for his vanity project, Hammerhead itself is tight as a drum, with Morpurgo’s exceptional performance precision-plugged into a matrix of audio and visual story beats, plot twists and ridiculous tangents, the scaffolding on which his fictional self has erected his monumental folly crashing down in a beautifully executed demolition.
Some touches are inspired, from the indentured servitude he’s driven himself to in order to fund this mammoth undertaking, which includes writing an almost fully realised musical for a chartered surveyor, to the corners he’s had to cut, his publicity poster a vision of hilarious penny-pinching desperation.
Dazzling in its scope and creativity, Hammerhead wreaks happy mischief on virtually every cliché of the auteur ego-trip. Marvellous.
Until 28 August. Today 8pm.