Gods And Monsters

Gods and Monsters by Russell Labey at the Southwark Playhouse is the latest nugget in credible maestro Danielle Tarento’s forever blooming theatrical scrapbook. From founder of legendary Menier Chocolate Factory to producer of landmark productions such as Taboo, Dogfight, Pitchfork Disney and the international success Titanic, she also exudes an irreverent passion for original and new works. Tarento, yet again has uncovered another fascinating piece of theatre. True to form and consistency she delivers in all areas, as one has come to expect, and engaged us in yet another flawless and invigorating production.

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

Reviews by Stuart Saint

Charing Cross Theatre

Death Takes A Holiday

★★★
Southwark Playhouse

Grey Gardens

★★★★★
Southwark Playhouse

Grand Hotel

★★★★★
Southwark Playhouse

Gods And Monsters

★★★★★
Southwark Playhouse

Dogfight

★★★★★
Gilded Balloon

Wendy Wason: Hotel California

★★★★

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Performances

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The Blurb

Frankenstein director James Whale, long forgotten by the studios and in reclusive Hollywood retirement has fallen victim to a series of strokes. The only demons he fights now are in his head. Handsome new gardner, Clayton Boone, becomes an unlikely friend and unwitting player in Whale's grand finale.

Not so much a Hollywood history as a glorious imagining, exploring the sometimes divine, sometimes monstrous landscape of obsession and desire. Based on the novel Father of Frankenstein by Christopher Bram - the same source material as for the 1998 Oscar-winning movie, Gods And Monsters.

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