The Resurrectionist is currently playing at the Etcetera Theatre in Camden High Street. The production promises to explore the extraordinary “true” events that led to the creation of the masterpiece, Frankenstein, penned by Mary Shelley.
I am a huge fan of the novel, I have seen various productions and adaptations of Frankenstein over the past few years and am genuinely fascinated by the “Modern Day Prometheus” that she created back in the early 1800s.
Etcetera’s black box theatre space is small and Hannah Wilkinson has beautifully designed a set that fits perfectly into the space, we are instantly transported to the 1800s and find ourselves looking into the study of Victor Darvell, Scientist, Galvinist, Alchemist, Necromancer and Doctor!
Samantha Kamras as Mary Shelley enters the space using a lantern for light, she is nervous and has a sense of dread about her. We learn very quickly that she is returning to a site where the “true events” which led to Mary’s writing took place. We learn that the “story” she tells may not indeed be completely fictitious.
Here the problem lies for me, and to be honest, it is not really about the production values, the direction or the actors, it is instead with the script. It started well, with huge promise, but just didn’t deliver. Maybe I’m being a snob, or I have too much investment in the novel and Mary Shelley’s background. I just didn’t like it. I found the story a little staid and the parallels and interwoven narratives between The Resurrections and Frankenstein a little too much for me.
I also didn’t like the way the piece was cast. Although Tristan Rogers gave a strong performance as Byron, it was really hard to buy into the fact he was Lord Byron; sexual lothario who could charm anyone into bed, also Tom Everatt as Blaize, he no doubt followed direction to act very childlike and regressive in his second birth, however, his character came across very much like a camp baby who had big floppy hair, rather than a complex take on the creature who was never named, a man of culture and knowledge who knows lots of the world yet nothing of himself.
On the positive side, I really enjoyed the performances by both Samantha Kamras as Mary Shelley and Peter Dewhurst as Victor Darvell. Dewhurst gets the balance just right between scientist/philosopher/father and student. His physicality and voice are strong and dominant and often carry the piece. He drives the production forward and I feel the writers missed a trick or two with his character. There could have been an interesting discussion between him and the priest regarding the re-birth of Jesus and Blaize!
Kamras gives a strong performance, showing the inner strength that Mary has, the fight in her and her family values. I really warmed to her and would have loved to have seen more scenes with her in them. After all this is the story that led to her novel and she is not often present in the scenes.
Review by Faye Stockley
Playwrights Robert Pope and Ian Dixon Potter
Director Courtney Larkin
Composer Nick Barstow
Golden Age Theatre Company
Cast: Michael Andrews, Peter Dewhurst, Tom Everatt, Sam Kamras, Tristan Rogers and Mark Shaer
September 27th to October 9th
above the Oxford Arms, 265 Camden High St, London
£12 (£10 concessions)