Gods and Monsters is compelling as it is gripping, tantalising, as it is tender.
Labey has adapted novel Father Of Frankenstein and carries the same title as Bill Condon’s movie starring Sir Ian Mackellen. Having never read the book nor seen said movie I have no comparison to make, but as a stand alone piece, this Gods and Monsters is compelling as it is gripping, tantalising, as it is tender. Labey has delicately crafted an elegant biographical story of legendary British film director James Whale in his later life. Famous for masterminding such cult movies as Frankenstein, Bride of Frankenstein and Show Boat, Whale became somewhat a recluse with failing health issues but somehow retaining his vigorous fervour for young virile men. Along with his simplistic and gentle direction Labey has written a very moving portrayal, weaving fact and fiction with great ease, commanding dramatic poignancy along with humanising – what could so easily become hysterical or melancholic – the characters with effortless wit, truth and quirk. Even the overt parade of male nudity, which would entice any level of voyeur, felt necessary and although appeasing to the eye, didn’t detract, only added to the level of maturity and integrity of the piece.
Ian Gelder as Whale is a diamond to watch, breathing such beauty and intrigue into this glorious and celebrated gentleman. With the right amount of pathos Gelder delivers a remarkable performance and cleverly steers Whale away from what could easily become a dirty old man, garnering sympathy for someone who’s twinkling and artistic eye will be remembered for all the correct reasons.
For his debut, Will Austin as the muscled – dare I say hick – Clayton Boone, leaves quite the first impression and exercises the perfect amount of composure next to Gelder's intricate Whale. Joey Phillips is an energetic and commendable addition to the cast alongside the dashing Will Rastall and the perfect Lachele Carl as the impassive, deadpan Maria.
A well-rounded production deserved of its high praise and glorious future. An obvious labour of love for Labey and a triumph for Tarento