By now familiar with Arrows & Traps’ particular brand of theatre, I was as usual very impressed by this adaptation of Frankenstein directed by Ross McGregor. This production integrates the story of its very creation by following a young Mary Shelley and her own dramatic life, as well as the threads of Victor Frankenstein’s desire for knowledge the Creature’s exposure to the unforgiving world around him. Creation is the central theme – the responsibility towards one’s progeny, in many senses – tying this approach together nicely. Having known very little about Mary Shelley going into this viewing, I was very much inspired to investigate her life when I left.
Cornelia Baumann is the perfect actress to lend Mary Shelley the requisite intelligence and darkness of her creative and romantic life. She is also a solid presence, remaining on stage for much of the production to weave each thread of the story together. I was as compelled by this arc, as the story within it – Shelley’s life imbues each aspect of the tale of Frankenstein with new significance, giving this production a freshness and depth rarely seen in adaptations of this classic.
There are some fabulous performers on this stage, Victoria Llewellyn lending a quiet power to Elizabeth Lavenza and Zoe Dales a charming and sympathetic Agatha. Christopher Tester is suitably esoteric as the tortured Victor Frankenstein. The highlight of the production, however, is undoubtedly Will Pinchin’s performance as the Creature. His physicality in the role is both childlike and strong, and accompanied by the deft and detailed evolution of his speech, offers up a Creature who is both terrifying and entirely sympathetic, a perfect counterpart to Tester’s nervous Frankenstein.
While the pace certainly slows by the end of the second half, this is an otherwise impressive production of this classic story. With the climactic moment of the Creature’s birth sitting just before the interval, it is an understandable challenge to maintain the level of energy of the first half. A longer moment with Mary Shelley at the end, harkening back to the opening scene would have tied the stories together all the more tightly, as her personal story is very much the origin and heart of the tale. Regardless, this is an excellent adaptation of this story, beautifully staged and sensitively performed. As ever, clever lighting and staging complement solid performances and thoughtful writing – another quality Arrows & Traps production.
Review by Christina Calgaro
based on the novel by Mary Shelley
Written & Directed by Ross McGregor
Presented by Arrows & Traps Theatre
I saw the pale student of unhallowed arts kneeling beside the thing he had put together.
Victor Frankenstein, a brilliant and ambitious young student, discovers the secret of creating life from the remains of the dead. But elation at his triumph is replaced by horror when he realises the full extent of his monstrous creation. Abandoned by the one who made him, Frankenstein’s Creature is left alone in a world that fears and rejects him, and soon his innocence turns to misery. Increasingly desperate and vengeful, he determines to track down his creator and strike a terrifying bargain.
Five-time Offie-Nominated Arrows & Traps bring to life a remarkable brand-new adaptation of this thrilling and haunting gothic tale about the dangers of scientific irresponsibility and parental neglect, in celebration of the 200 year anniversary since Mary Shelley wrote the original manuscript.
Tues 26 September to Sat 21 October 2017 at 7.45pm