A tall white skeletal house has mist rolling in through its huge missing windows. There’s thunder and lightning and the house walls are lined with blank white shelves holding blank covered books. Dead white trees come through the walls.
It’s a haunting opening image for a really clever upbeat and quirky version of Frankenstein , Mary Shelley’s classic gothic horror story.
What writer Rhonda Munro gives us is a whirlwind tour through the madly inventive mind of Shelley and her creations – Dr Victor Frankenstein and his monster made from the parts of the dead bodies he has dug up to further his experiments on the creation of life.
Shelley is front and centre throughout, talking to us about her writer’s block and physically stopping or speeding up her actors to re-create the very process of writing.
We are in no doubt that Frankenstein’s process of mad creation is mirrored by Shelley’s writing of her masterpiece.
There are many references to madness and monstrosity and we are left pondering who is the real monster of the piece – is it Frankenstein, his creation or Shelley herself ? We’re left to make up our own mind.
Eilidh Loan as the writer is frenetic, funny, feisty and very annoying. She constantly wise-cracks her way through the proceedings – sometimes with great glee announcing she’s going to kill off another character – then doing so with the stroke of her pencil.
Ben Castle Gibb is a headstrong handsome Frankenstein who subsides during the play into a gibberish obsessed maniac hell-bent on his own destruction. Michael Moreland is a muscular long haired monster with no signs of being made up of many parts and with a wild-eyed shouty feel of Tarzan about him .
The monster tells the bad doctor F that if he only shows his monster love, all will be well – perhaps he could make the monster a partner and they could run away. It’s as fanciful as the overall tale and of course the minxy Shelley is not far away ready to make everyone’s life unhappy for the sake of her novel’s success.
It’s a bold re-imagining and like the monster , it has its flaws but it’s a novel creation.
Frankenstein , staged by Perth Theatre and the Belgrade Coventry is at the Theatre Royal, Brighton until 19 October .