by Ross McGregor.
Based on the novel by Mary Shelley.
The Brockley Jack Studio Theatre, 410 Brockley Road, London SE4 2DH to 21 October 2017.
Runs 2hr 40 mins One interval.
TICKETS: 0333 666 3366
Review: William Russell 28 September.
Well acted and directed, an outstanding evening
Ross McGregor, who also directs his play, has mixed the story of Frankenstein with that of Mary Godwin who wrote it 200 years ago aged nineteen. It is an interesting way to approach telling the tale of Frankenstein and his monster, a tale perhaps too often told. Since it also requires the cast to play parts in both stories it can get slightly confusing not through any inadequacy on the part of the actors, but because the Frankenstein story comes burdened with all those cinema versions as opposed to what Mary actually wrote.
Cornelia Baumann is a spell binding Mary, small, determined, a passionate yet contained being, and not, as are the rest of her family, totally under the control of their father, the political philosopher William Godwin. Her performance holds the attention as the action shifts between reality and fiction and provides a very necessary point of focus. The other outstanding performance is from Will Pinchin who plays the Creature and manages the transition from a dumb monster figure to a wholly articulate and tragic one, a being protesting at a destiny he had neither sought nor deserved and ultimately destroys his creator.
Good though Christopher Tester is as Frankenstein, the play is not about him, but belongs to Mary.
McGregor has handled the complexities of the play’s double strand plotting skilfully, the costumes are handsome and the result is an evening which both stimulates and challenges. It is possibly a shade too long, and something possibly could be done to make clear who all the women are – Mary has a sister called Fanny, who seems to have seen the romantic libidinous poet Shelley as a possibility for herself, as well as the half sister, and there is Shelley’s wife Harriet among others who come and go.
Knowing something before hand about Mary and her life with the poet Percy Bysshe Shelley is useful, if not essential, and the same goes for a quick look at the plot of the novel she wrote in Geneva in 1816 while on holiday with Shelley, her half sister Claire Clairmont, and Lord Byron. It was a very complicated world – children are born, children die, affairs are embarked upon – which came to a tragic end in 1822 when Shelley was drowned off Viareggio where they were on holiday escaping creditors as usual.
Mary Shelley: Cornelia Baumann.
Henry Clerval/Percy Bysshe Shelley/Felix/Percy Florence Shelley: Oliver Brassell.
Agatha/Claire Clairmont: Zoe Dales.
Elizabeth Lavenza/Harriet Westbrook: Victoria Llewellyn.
The Creature: Will Pinchin.
Alphonse/William Godwin:Philip Ridout.
Victor Frankenstein: Christopher Tester.
Fanny Imlay/Second Creature: Beatrice Vincent.
Director: Ross McGregor.
Costumes & Set Design: Odin Corie.
Lighting Designer: Ben Jacobs.
Sound Designer: Alistair Lax.
Special Effect Make-up Design: Will Pinchin.
Fight Director: Yarit Dor.