Frankenstein is a retelling of Mary Shelley’s classic story. It tells the story of a creature who was created by the character Victor Frankenstein. The story depicts the creature’s heart-breaking evolution, as he begins as an innocent being who does not know how to walk or talk and ends as a monstrous killer. Despite its flaws, this Frankenstein production was entertaining and enjoyable to watch. Apart from creating a holistic appearance, Danny Boyle’s production direction showed many clear choices. One choice that I thought was interesting was the contrast shown in the physicality of the creature and the old man, who teaches the creature to talk. Ordinarily, I would not attribute the physicality of actors to a choice made by the director, but the two seemed to be so opposite that it must have been purposeful. The creature seemed very aggravated and big from crawling to running . The old man, in contrast, was very stiff and straight. All of his movements very slow and precise, while the creature’s were fast and tumble. This choice firstly contrasts the age and abilities of the creature and the old man. The old man is not only elderly but blind; his physical abilities are minimal, yet his stiff, unmoving body represents his unwavering religious faith and is a container of knowledge. The creature’s body is a sin itself, created by parts from many different dead bodies. Yet his body is much more capable than the old man’s, and as they spend more time together, his mind proves to be capable as well. The contrast in the two’s movement and physicality reinforce the foil relationship that the two have and inspire interesting discussion on this dynamic. Overall I was impressed by the direction of the production of not only the acting but the lighting, costuming, and scenic design, which showed great continuity. The portrayal of the creature impressed me greatly. His dedication to his movements and expression through his voice was unrivalled in my experience. The way he portrayed learning to walk conveyed an impactful honesty to his character’s struggle. His movements frequently appeared animalistic, implying to the audience how the other characters perceive his lack of humanity. His vocal portrayal of a person who has not yet learned to speak was also impressive. His voice progressed from noises and meaningless babbling to repeating what others had said to him (which he did with comic accuracy to their voices and inflections). Then, as he continues to learn from the old man, he begins to learn to speak. His voice is still slow and round at first, with little precision in his words. He struck a happy medium between the creature’s difficulty pronouncing and learning words and the audience’s desire to comprehend them. Overall, the portrayal of Frankenstein’s fiancée was less impressive. To her credit, her character, as written, did not provide her with much to work with. Throughout the play, her main desire and motivation is to marry Dr. Frankenstein so that he can impregnate her. With her kind demeanor and maternal presence, she naturally fits the Lucy Mannette archetype. I recognize this as a way to contrast her innocence with Frankenstein’s when he violates and murders her, but as a female, I believe it would be difficult for me to play the role of a wanting and waiting woman who is submissive to her fiancé and inactive in her own destiny. The actress who played her appeared to closely adhere to the stereotypes assigned to her character, resulting in an unrealistic and unpleasant performance. To her credit, her voice was strong and her movement was confident, but I couldn’t see her character as nuanced in any way. Again, this could simply be a script flaw. Her interactions with Dr. Frankenstein were also awkward, as she begged him to “show her how he will make her a baby.” Despite this, she remained a rather composed Victorian-woman archetype character, which simply did not work for the desperation of her lines. The use of lighting and sound at the start of the performance was effective in setting an ominous tone and immediately entrancing the audience. The show began in complete darkness with a loud, pulsating song. The light would flash like lightning in time with the beats whenever the music sounded like lightning. The audience could see the creature’s body on a high platform in this brief flash. He was a dark shadow in the bright light, and his dramatic and stretched positions, which were only briefly visible, transported the audience to the rainy, foggy, dark mood of previous encounters with the Frankenstein story. In this instance, I thought the lighting and sound were expertly executed. The use of projection on the old man’s house when it catches fire was also impressive and realistic. The set was very visually appealing. With being shaped sharp, everything was very minimalistic. In the center was a multi-level structure that served as the tall building from which the creature is created and the mountains on which he dies and becomes Dr. Frankenstein’s prey. This structure struck me as the set’s most powerful component. To the left side of the stage was the old man’s house. This structure is surrounded by a material that allows it to be transparent or mostly opaque depending on the lighting used. This worked well for the plot and provided a unique experience of peering inside what appeared to be a closed door. However, this cabin was so far upstage that it became more of a hindrance than a help at times. Overall, the set served the production well but was not particularly impressive to me.
Overall, I found myself very impacted by this production. The performance of the creature made me feel desperate to perform in a physically demanding role and push my own capabilities. I did not like the part which was the awkward interactions between Dr. Frankenstein and his fiancé. I was intrigued by the use of music throughout the production to continually set the tone.