Most people will know the basic plot of ‘Frankenstein’, some will have seen films, others read the book or studied it at school or University, but how many people know about the history behind the novel? How did this ground breaking novel come about?
This is what the Flannigan Collective’s promenade production of ‘Frankenstein’, written and directed by Alexander Wright, sets out to explore. In connection with York Theatre Royal, Flannigan Collective takes the audience on a journey around the back allies of York while exploring the lives of Mary Wollstonecraft, her soon to be husband, Percy Bysshe Shelley and the two main characters in her novel; Victor Frankenstein and the creature he created. The company decided to have a female cast of two playing the four roles and this created a very interesting dynamic between all the characters, as well as adding a contemporary feel to the events of nearly 200 years ago.
Holly Beasley-Garrigan as Percy Bysshe Shelley and the creature was very engaging and confident. Her interpretation of Shelley seemed to develop over the course of the play, from a confident and revolutionary young man to a more unsure and questioning one as he tried to support his wife with the book she was writing. As the creature she showed a vulnerability and desperation that made the audience feel pity for him, despite the atrocities he had committed. Veronica Hare was also able to show off her versatility as an actor by performing both Mary Shelley and Victor Frankenstein with confidence and complexity. At no time were the audience confused about which character they were watching and the moments where both actors were interacting were particularly powerful.
Walking around the Minster in the dark, being led by a character from the past was exciting and also very thought provoking, using the Minster as a symbol for religion and God the Creator was particularly effective, and a real sense of connection between the characters and the audience was created.
The one element that confused me, and weakened my enjoyment of the first 20 minutes or so of the piece, was the title. I did go into this thinking I was going to watch a version of the novel, and although in a way I did, it turned out to be much more than this. The story was in there, albeit in a very truncated form, but the real emphasis was on the reasons why the story was written and the events in Mary Shelley’s life that influenced her. A different title may have allowed me to understand the concept quicker and so fully absorb myself in the performance.
Overall this was an absorbing and incredibly well constructed piece of theatre that sensitively explored the life of a talented yet haunted writer and her horrifying creation.
This is an outside performance so please wear warm clothes and shoes with good grip; it was very slippery when I went!
Reviewer: Elizabeth Vile
Reviewed: 3rd November 2016
North West End Rating: ★★★★