The Creature: Frankenstein Retold at the Rose Theatre Kingston | Review

Eleanor Clark and Louis Mertens. Photos by Csilla Horvath.
Eleanor Clark and Louis Mertens. Photos by Csilla Horvath.

I feel quite honoured to be attending the professional debut of this evening’s cast who are all alumni of the Rose Youth Theatre. Ciaran McConville, the former Director of Learning and Participation at the Rose Theatre has updated Mary Shelley’s ‘Frankenstein’ with references to modern technology that brings the story right up to date but remains just as terrifying.

Philip Connolly’s set is a tangled mass of pipes, wires, cobwebs and rags and so much smoke that I was surprised the smoke detectors weren’t activated. This is a rusty old trawler, in the middle of the frozen ocean, miles from any civilisation. A young woman arrives here and warns the Captain, Ralf Wile (Francis Redfern) that there is a superhuman woman out on the ice who has the power to destroy mankind. The story then turns back in time and we learn about these two young women and how and why they have arrived here.

Director Lucy Morrell, who is the current Director of Learning and Participation at the Rose, has used a Classical Greek Chorus to help the audience follow the tale as it moves through multiple locations, times and characters. There is a fairly small cast so everyone takes a part in the Chorus when their main character(s) are not performing.

The Creator (Eleanor Clark) is one of a group of high achieving academics, working as an Immunologist trying to cure disease. When she and her friends witness a terrorist attack outside a nightclub she decides that there is no point in curing disease as people are the real disease. She wants to create something better than a human being. The Creature (Anna Pryce) is the result of her experiments, but inevitably, things do not go to plan. The Creature adores her creator and cannot bear to see her frightened, or at the heart of close relationships that do not include her. She begins a murderous spree, killing anyone who she feels is coming between her and her ‘mother’.

McConville’s script is packed with ideas, maybe too many? Islamic Terrorism, Cloning, Cryogenics, Islamophobia, the Refugee crisis, Information Technology Greek Mythology, My head was swimming slightly by the interval. The use of the cast as Chorus is probably the best part of the production, their strange, zombie-like movements give a sense of foreboding to the action. They switch from twitching, jerking movements to flowing as one across the stage.

Eleanor and Anna are excellent leads for this production. The Creator is a demanding role and well-performed – Eleanor rarely leaves the stage. Anna Pryce is particularly good as the creature; I would have liked to see more of her as the earlier parts of the play before her ‘birth’ felt rather overlong.

A very thought-provoking production, and surely the beginning of some wonderful acting careers.

4 stars

Review by Sally Knipe

Rose Theatre Kingston presents a professional debut for Rose Youth Theatre alumni
I was both one and zero, creator and destroyer, disease and cure, God and monster.
An arctic vessel trapped in the frozen ocean, takes on a stranger far from shore, who warns of an impending attack from a creature of superhuman strength. As the captain tries to find some way of defending his cargo, a horrifying story emerges.

This unflinching, contemporary retelling of Mary Shelley’s masterpiece is a professional debut for alumni of our distinguished Rose Youth Theatre.

Billy Brown – Henri / The Landlord
Eleanor Clark – The Creator
Joshua King Milne – Professor Waldman / Fira / Moritz
Katherine Liley – Flic / Safi
Louis Mertens – Mr Kirwin / Elias / Aleksei
Frankie Oldham – Mr Kremp / Vadim
Anna Pryce – The Creature
Francis Redfern – Ralf Wile
Daisy Tucker – Elizabeth

This production is part-funded by donations to our Rose Youth Theatre fund.
Rose Theatre presents A Rose Original Production
The Creature: [Frankenstein Retold]
Based on Frankenstein by Mary Shelley and adapted by Ciaran McConville
Written by Ciaran McConville | Directed by Lucy Morrell
Associate Director Josh Mathieson
Rose Theatre, Kingston
24 – 26 High Street Kingston Upon Thames London KT1 1HL
Thu 27 Feb – Sat 29 Feb 2020

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