Mary Shelly’s Frankenste
in: The Modern Prometheus
“This tale of terror” is part 1 of a Gothic Trilogy that An Evcol Entertainment – Clockwork Digitals Studios Productions will be presenting throughout 2014 in the studio space within The Lion and Unicorn pub in Kentish Town.
The stage is dressed with lush crushed velvet curtains draped from Gothic style oversized photo frames, it is from these frames that the triumphant cast enter and exit the stage, as if photographic memories are coming alive and re-living stories before the audience’s eyes.
The theme of storytelling is echoed throughout the production and is depicted beautifully in the scene between Mary Shelly her husband Percy and Lord Byron, where we hear Mary tell her boys her ghost story, a story she dreamt that went on to be published in the early 1800s.
For those of you who know Mary Shelly’s background, you can easily see the symmetry between her life and the themes apparent in her masterpiece and also in this production – i.e of death, decay, searching for answers and the existentialist quest for survival without guidance that is mirrored throughout the piece. History tells us that Mary’s mother died a few days after her birth, she was able to learn about her through her writings (Mary’s mother, Mary Wollstonecraft, wrote A Vindication of the Rights of Woman ) so Victor Frankenstein’s Creature is searching for understanding and learns of his maker through Frankenstein’s journal.
What was most prevalent to this piece, for me, was the juxtaposition of light to dark, love and tenderness, to fear and loathing.
The exposition presented in the first half of the production allows the audience to witness the many sides of Victor Frankenstein.
The young progeny Frankenstein with dishevelled hair, oversized shirt and a unquenchable thirst for life has a desire “ to push our knowledge beyond our belief” . The characterisation is cleverly executed by Dmity Ser.
Frankenstein has tender, loving relationships with his father, sister and finance, his younger brother, his scholarly comrades and professors.
There is a beautiful scene where we see the ever straight, perfectly groomed Henry Clerval, a very committed and polished performance from Rory Fairbairn, care and give warmth for Frankenstein juxtaposed with the visceral, dark and disturbing reality that is the creature’s existence, a life where he only experiences tenderness from the blind.
There are some beautifully crafted scenes, with poignant sound effects and prop use that will make the audience shudder – a scream from a murdered prostitute, the delivery of amniotic fluid to Frankenstein in a silver bucket, the barking of a dog and the sound of graves being dug.
Sam Curry the youngest of this beautifully cast ensemble plays The Creature. His physical and emotive portrayal of the “patchwork man of my [Frankenstein’s] own devising” is thoughtful, his speeches are delivered with conviction and his cries of “who am I”, and “ create someone like me so she won’t hate me” are powerful moments within the piece.
The speech where he talks of trace memories strikes a particular cord in me and my friend, starting a discussion after the show about body transplants and stolen memories.
In all, if you are a fan of the original Frankenstein story, or you are new to it, there is something in this piece for you all.
Each cast member is strong, it’s a real ensemble piece where many actors portray many parts, however their performances remain individual and executed with precision and clarity. I look forward to watching part 2 and 3 later this year.
Review by Faye Stockley
Mary Shelley’s frankenstein: The Modern Prometheus
Rescued near the North Pole, a dying Victor Frankenstein tells a British explorer Captain Robert Walton, an incredible tale of his cursed life.
The eldest son of a wealthy Swiss family, Frankenstein is sent to University in Ingolstadt, where his brilliance and thirst for knowledge are soon clear to all. He develops an obsessive quest to create life and bestow it on an inanimate being, which he has constructed from the corpses of many experiments; something which horrifies even himself. When he succeeds in animating his creature, he is appalled by what he’s done and hides from him; the creature disappears, only gradually does it become apparent that in creating this being, then rejecting him, Frankenstein has brought about the doom of all those who are dear to him.
Adaptation: Adam Dechanel
Directed, Staged and Produced by Simon James Collier
Set & Costume Design: Cory Roberts
Sound Design: James Corner
Frankenstein is part of a Gothic Trilogy season at the Lion and Unicorn Theatre. Don’t miss part 2, The Corruption of Dorian Gray and part 3, Jekyll and Hyde!
An Evcol Entertainment Production in association with Clockwork Digital Studios.
Friday 21st February 2014