FRANKENSTEIN: adapted Tim Kelly, revised Nicholas Briggs.
Theatre Royal: Tkts 0115 989 5555 www.royalcentre-nottingham.co.uk.
Runs: 1h 40m: one interval: till 18th August.
Performance times: 7.30pm weekdays and 8.00pm Sat (Matinees 2.00pm Weds and 5.00pm Sat).
Review: Alan Geary: 13th August 2012.
A bold departure for the Classic Thriller Season – see it.
Gaslight? Strangers on a Train? From time to time over the years Nottingham’s Classic Thriller Season comes up with a piece that could easily stand alone in a run on its own. Frankenstein is just such a play.
Adapted from the nineteenth-century novel by Tim Kelly and revised by Nicholas Briggs, who also directs, this is a bold departure. It isn’t simply distinct from the Francis Durbridge school of thriller writing: it seems to fall into a different genre altogether.
It’s young Victor Frankenstein’s wedding night. Not unreasonably he starts to tell his bride Elizabeth (Jo Castleton) why he’s been behaving strangely of late. In a protracted flashback, we see the creation of the Creature, the ensuing deaths, the attempt to fashion a female monster to be a helpmeet for the first one, and so on. Most of the havoc is presented on stage before we arrive back at the present for the final surprises.
This is unashamed gothic melodrama. It’s the tragedy of a man being destroyed by his own hubris. It’s also, of course, intriguing science fiction carrying with it scope for philosophical musing on what it means to be human. And there’s a splash of black humour as well: when Victor Frankenstein and old chum Henry (Chris Sheridan) pop out to collect some fresh body parts from their friendly neighbourhood morgue Victor’s mother (Karen Henson) thinks her boy’s gone shopping.
There are some terrific moments: the opening one when Victor Frankenstein addresses the audience; and the harrowing scene where Justine, a Gypsy girl (Sarah Wynne Kordas in a fine performance) pleads her innocence of murder before she’s dragged off to await execution.
Samuel Clemens’s Frankenstein, with the classical delivery of his lines and the dignified pace, is a super central performance; and Jeremy Lloyd Thomas – for once a non-villain – is excellent as Hessler, the Inspector General of Police. Andrew Dickens’s Creature at first doesn’t seem sufficiently lumbering, but he’s closer to the book than all those Hammer films. He’s an entirely sympathetic Creature, sensitive and pathetic.
Ernst: Jeremy Lloyd Thomas.
Sophie: Susan Earnshaw.
Victor Frankenstein: Samuel Clemens.
Elizabeth: Jo Castleton.
Henry: Chris Sheridan.
Frau Frankenstein: Karen Henson.
The Creature: Andrew Dickens.
Justine: Sarah Wynne Kordas.
Police Officer: Al Naed.
Director/Sound: Nicholas Briggs.
Set and Costume Designer: Geoff Gilder.
Lighting: Michael Donoghue.
DSM: Angie Spencer.
ASM: Alison Wilcox.