Friday, March 21, 2008

Monster Mish-Mash?

Frankenstein, The Royal & Derngate Theatre, Northampton, Thursday March 6 2008, 2.30pm.

It's your kitkat-crunching correspondent's first trip to Northampton, superficially a fairly unexceptional Midlands town whose train station is in particularly desperate need of a lick of paint. The museum opposite the theatre has lots and lots (and lots) of shoes, and the sales assistant at WHSmith from whom your well-read writer purchases a copy of Plan B is one of the most hostile customer service droids we've ever had the misfortune to give money to, but apart from that nothing to report. Yet we're not here for tourist travails, but to see whether Lisa Evans' adaptation for Frantic Assembly of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein at The Royal and Derngate can bring the nigh-on-two-hundred-years-old tale of terror back to life.

The answer is yes and no. The production is racy, pacy and stylish, performed with well-choreographed gusto by young and energetic performers on a minimalist but expensive-looking set which has the modern sheen of contemporary horror/fantasy films. Of the cast, Richard Winsor stands out as an unusually lithe monster who stalks proceedings more like a sullen Silver Surfer than the clunking nuts-and-bolts version from the Karloff film, while there's a spark behind Saskia Butler's eyes that the play and her part (as Frankenstein's wife) never quite gives her the chance to ignite.

Evans' brave strategy of juxtaposing the classic Shelley story with a present-day narrative involving a young woman (played by a game Georgina Lamb) locked up in a prison hospital after shutting a baby in a freezer, works to an extent in that it adds an extra layer of intrigue for those overly familiar with the original tale, but ultimately fails to find the right pitch or resonance to provide satisfying comparison or contrast with the bold source material. However, even though not all parts of the play completely work, for the most part the production does succeed in delivering entertainment, excitement and not a few scares along the way, with occasional strong language, adult themes and a graphic suicide attempt making it unsuitable for younger children.

Labels: ,


Post a Comment

<< Home