Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is 200 years old and yet the universality of the novel’s core message keeps her creation in the very centre of popular culture. The enduring theme of man’s hubris and the persistent popular fear of new technology is as resonant today as it was then. The tale perfectly fit into the Zeitgeist of the 1930s when it was bastardised by Universal Studios into the iconic movies. Bradley Barlow’s re-imagining owes as much to these films as to Shelley’s original text, but the resulting play is entirely his own. He presents the protagonist of Victor Frankenstein as a Nobel winning medical researcher in two different time frames as ‘old Victor’ recounts the actions and reactions of ‘young Victor’.
For much of the play this production really suffers from a lack of excitement.
The structure of the story is excellent with good transitions between the time frames and nicely delineated scenes. However, the tone does jump around rather jarringly. The uncouth holiday makers encountered by our titular Monster stand out unfavourably in breaking the atmosphere and unity of the piece. One of the limitations of a well known story is the difficulty in creating suspense or surprise and for much of the play this production really suffers from a lack of excitement. A rather lacklustre rendering of the Monster’s re-animation strips the horror from this horror story. I would have liked to be scared by this scene.
In general, many of the performances lacked impact and drifted through some decent dialogue. Gordon Foggo gave a well realised portrayal of the complex ‘old Victor’ and held the eye, while Mandi Hollingsworth deserves mention for her engaging turn as Elizabeth. Barlow’s plot twist at the end makes up for a great deal of the weaker elements and nudges this into being a much more memorable show than it started off as.