Going into the foyer, people cluster in groups, excitedly anticipating the beginning of the play. At around 7pm, the doors open and people begin to enter the theatre in droves. Sitting at the back row,I was ready to see Frankenstein performed on stage. Preparing myself, I eagerly wait for the opening scene, my eyes straining in the dark to take notes.
It was a marvellous show, very in depth on the events surrounding Victor’s life and the creature’s journey since his creation. I was conflicted between whether I should sympathise with Victor or the creature, as both of them were morally divided, carrying guilt and loss. Victor Frankenstein, the main protagonist, uses such stark and eloquent language. Amongst all the gore, humorous scenes are scattered in between the main action. A story weaved on stage before an enraptured audience.
There were two acts, the first was about one and a half hours and then the second act was about an hour. This was still surprising considering most of the main events from the novel were included so timing could’ve been longer. It was quite succinct. With a cast of twenty-one actors, there was always something happening on stage. It was highly engaging and everyone gave splendid performances. Besides Victor Frankenstein and the creature, the landlord, Henry and the captain stood out to me.
The play begins on a boat in the middle of the Arctic Sea. The crew and captain have caught a stowaway and demand he be watched. It’s highly suspicious to be out here. Victor Frankenstein, played by Scott McArdle, tells the captain his life story, flashing back 15 years to when he grew up in a Swiss family. His father, mother, brother William, friend Henry and adopted sister Elizabeth. His mother’s death during his childhood wasa turning point. His father avenges her death and the family never fully recovered. To escape the solemn household, Victor decides he was to be a doctor. He travels to Germany in hope of studying to become a physician. In search of lodgings, his misfortune leads him to renting the attic and having to put up with his crazed landlord. In his growing, morbid fascination with life and death, he ignores that he has a responsibility as a doctor. In the present, Victor chases after his own memories, haunted by his decisions and his guilt. In the second act, the creature goes through its life of suffering, starting when Victor abandoned him.
Written by Mary Shelley, the script was adapted for the theatre by Scott McArdle. Frankenstein was originally a novel and considered literature. McArdle managed somehow to write the script, direct and act in the same play. Originally Aaron Jay was going to be Victor Frankenstein, though something happened last minute that prevented him from continuing. Scott was able to take on the role within 6 weeks. Being experienced in adapting to the demand is a distinguishing ability for an actor to have.
The production was able to find a way to have wolves and a horse on stage, with enough fine detail to provoke the imagination. The smoke machine was frequently used for storms, fires and foggy streets, allowing for a realistic atmosphere. The costumes were very practical and precise. The sound was effective in application and enhanced the impact of the action on stage. The lighting was elaborate and complemented the sound-scape.
The same set as Dracula and The Mummy was used, adapted specifically for this performance. It suited well in the differing settings but the set was installed with a ‘fold out’ bed and I noticed that it was already stained before the action began. This is most likely from one of the rehearsals or the preview on Wednesday. The bed itself was a great addition to the set, it just slightly disrupted the illusion.
This production of Frankenstein retains the potent horror and mystery of Mary Shelley’s novel. With a creative production team and a skilled cast of 21 people collaborating, the production was remarkable. It was both shocking and delightfully gruesome, yet not overly violent. I highly recommend seeing Frankenstein at Nexus Theatre, rating, 8/10
Murdoch Open Day
Check out the Nexus Theatre and learn more about Murdoch Theatre at the Murdoch Open Day on Sunday. There will be a presentation and several performances throughout the day at the South Street Campus. 10am-4pm
Upcoming Plays at Murdoch University
Circle, July 28th-30th, Studio 411 Written by Sean Wcislo and directed by Leigh Fitzpatrick. A group of friends take a roadtrip, going on a journey physically and emotionally. Their friendships are severely tested when they get lost. 6;30pm open, 7pm start
2084- Presented by Murdoch University PHD candidates, starting August 18th. Nexus Theatre. A musical, inspired by the novel of George Orwell- 1984. The original script for the production is the product of Sarah Courtis’ and Ellin Sear’s PhD theses. = More information will come some. Have a look at the description on the FB event.