Frankenstein, Belgrade B2, Coventry, to Oct 12.
The story is not exactly unfamiliar, so an initial reaction to a new stage production might well be ‘why bother?’
But what makes Rona Munro’s adaptation different and worthwhile is its placing of the author, Mary Shelley, at the heart of the action, as she struggles with the horror of her creation and its implications.
Shelley is a spirited teenager in the drama, filled with burning indignation at man’s misuse of power and knowledge (and she does mean man’s!), repelled by the literal nightmare which spawned her hellish vision, yet also wilful in the pleasure she allows herself in dealing death and destruction. As such, in Eilidh Loan’s excellent performance, she is very much a 21st century construct. The teenage wife of the poet Shelley is hard to detect, and for some, this lack of historic context might be a problem, but theatrically it works.
She is well-supported by the other six cast members, four of whom play multiple roles, while stand-out performances are given by Ben Castle-Gibb as Victor Frankenstein, and Michael Moreland as the Monster.
It’s a strength of this production that it doesn’t attempt reproduce cinematic versions of Frankenstein’s creation. Rather, Michael Moreland gives a performance of great flesh and blood physicality, which makes the superhuman powers Shelley bestows on the Monster credible.
The creatives on this production do a fine job. Few B2 productions that I can recall have been as elaborate, and it felt unusual not to have audience members on either side of a thrust stage. This staging is conventional, and features elegantly designed, silvery-white building frontages with steel balconies and stark bare trees, sturdy enough to allow the actors to nimbly access the higher levels.
So don’t think ‘why bother?’ This is worth a look.
For tickets, call 02476 553055 or email firstname.lastname@example.org