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Theatre Review: Frankenstein ***

Joy Watters reviews 'a fascinating portrait of Mary Shelley'.

Rona Munro’s new version of the classic novel puts its author Mary Shelley centre stage. She is the puppet master, halting the narrative to make the story as chilling and unsettling and thought provoking as possible.

Munro wanted to put Shelley in the forefront to remind the audience that she was just eighteen when she began the horror story that has lived on in a host of adaptations on stage and screen; that her political views were all important and that with power comes responsibility.

Directed by Patricia Benecke in a co-production withBelgrade Theatre Coventry, Selladoor Productions and Matthew Townshend Productions, Mary’s voice rings out loud and clear, within minutes she is in the centre of the action, armed with a quiver of pens to halt and amend the narrative.

The lights go up to reveal a scene in monochrome, costumes and set bereft of colour fill the stage. It resembles a silent movie. but this is a production filled with noise, too much noise. Frequent flashes of thunder and lightning, the hackneyed mark of a horror story, are overused rather than getting under the skin of the audience more subtly.

Mary Shelley is played by Eilidh Loan, making her professional stage debut, with power and energy as the young woman ahead of her time, sure of her purpose and ability. It is a novel and fascinating approach to the evergreen tale now two centuries old.

The first half tells the tale of Victor Frankenstein, the young scientist bringing a corpse back to life and creating a nightmare. Ben Castle Gibb, also making his professional debut, movingly conveys the agony of his situation.

Fast moving with so much to say, the intention of the narrative is sometimes obscured, but it remains a fascinating portrait of Mary Shelley.

Frankenstein is on tour, performing at Perth Theatre until September 21, Edinburgh King's Theatre from October 21-26, Glasgow Theatre Royal from November 25-30, Her Majesty's Aberdeen from February 4-8 and Eden Court Inverness from February 18-22.

Tags: theatre

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