What if Frankenstein’s monster were transported to our modern-day technological world and treated with the same fear and disgust he encountered in the original story? Not so hard to imagine. But what if Frankenstein’s creator Mary Shelley was treated in the same way as her newly created monster? What if, in her real life, she suffered from the same kind of soul torture that she penned for Frankenstein’s monster?
This is a rare treat of emerging talent backed by experienced prowess
The play opens on the gravestone of Mary Wollstonecraft, author of Vindication of the Rights of Women, mother to Fanny and Mary. Wollstonecraft died shortly after giving birth to Mary. Her daughter Mary, (Mary Shelley to be), now grown, wails in grief for her mother, desperate and bereft. Later in the play, her bereft Creature will have a parallel experience.
The ensemble are dressed in grunge-style grey and black clothes and move around a white-dressed Mary, using the stage to good effect. Mists swirl, the action is fast and dark, and Mary begins to write. She gives birth to a baby and the baby becomes Frankenstein’s monster. At this point the action becomes double-stranded and alternate narratives are acted out as scenes change from past to present in flashes of lightning.
The first narrative concerns Mary’s life 200 years ago. The second shows us The Creature (effectively played with animalistic passion by Liam–Gerasimo Ireland-Karytinos) arriving in the present as the eponymous ‘Item’.
We watch both Mary and her Creature as they are accosted by their respective hostile environments. Uncared for, unsupported, both meet mainly fear, ignorance and anger in the humans they interact with. Notable exceptions are Mary’s sister Fanny, and a blind, homeless woman who helps The Creature.
The lack of humanity shown to Mary’s monster, and to Mary herself - who the play reminds us is an 18 year old, motherless, pregnant runaway at the time of writing her novel Frankenstein – is at once shocking and exceptionally well choreographed and enacted.
This piece of theatre is the end of year performance for the first cohort of the Brighton Institute of Contemporary Theatre Training (BRICTT school). The students have been trained by industry experts for the past year, and the show is directed and adapted by Gary Sefton, produced by James Turnbull, with Creative Director Mia Bird overseeing, all of these being leading industry figures. It is slick, impactful and brimming with the fresh youthful energy of the cast, a credit to both performers and teachers. A longer, more detailed version of the adaptation might make the parallels in the plot clearer and facilitate both greater sympathy for Mary’s character and a more satisfying ending. But, for an end-of-the-first-year 45 minute performance, blimey - this is a rare treat of emerging talent backed by experienced prowess. Catch it if you can, and congratulations BRICTT!