Bridewell Theatre – until 21 October. Reviewed by Jessica Brady
Based on the novel by Mary Shelley, Sedos presents FRANKENSTEIN! Written over 100 years ago still draws in audiences with its mystery. The heart of this tale was far advanced for its time, dealing with themes such as the existence of God, acceptance, hate and what it means to love, it follows the development of a strange creature and watch its uprising and downfall as we also witness the man who thought he had made waves in science but in fact created a monster.
This play version written by Nick Dear is a wonderful adaptation and the company of Sedos have created a great performance out of it! The set was inventive and worked perfectly for this production with four projections creating a constantly changing backdrop it was easy to distinguish settings and the projections themselves were visually stunning, attention was paid to the rest of the scenery too and the details were all there to elevate the standard of this production. The lighting design was particularly impressive with the use of a fork lightning effect cascading over the audience when the show begins linking up to the machine with ‘The Creature’ attached to it as it comes to life.
We go on a journey with ‘The Creature’ [played by Jonathon Cooper] from his ‘birth’. We watch him gasp for his first breath, attempt to stand and walk and when his creator Victor Frankenstein [played by Stephen Russell] sees his formation for the first time he runs away in horror at the sight of the terrifying figure. The story continues when he is seen by various people and is shunned, beaten and cast out for his hideous physique until he finds a kind blind man who doesn’t judge him for his appearance but instead helps him. We see the development of the creature’s speech and humanity forming through the kindness of the man as he teaches him how to write, and read and it appears that the creature is good, not evil and something to be destroyed. From this kindness comes great tragedy as the man who gave the creature a voice is eager for his son and his son’s wife to meet him as he is certain they will accept the creature, but this is not the case and they treat him unkindly like the rest of the people who have come across him. From this, the creature snaps and burns the house down with the family in it. The creature, no longer the good man he set out to be, comes to the decision that he will find his creator and get him to answer for his actions and create him a female companion just like him to combat his loneliness and allow him to love and be loved as he so desires.
The story is timeless and requires a lot from its main character, Jonathon Cooper does not disappoint. He is by far the standout of the production, with his excellent physical theatre skills and wonderful characterisation of the creature being the driving force and shows incredible command and intelligence in this role. I was blown away by Jonathon and found his performance to be very powerful and truthful. Stephen Russell as Frankenstein was just the right amount of erratic and crazy to portray the role and you could feel the horror seeping from him as he interacted with the creature, a great choice for casting as they both had an interesting chemistry that worked well in this instance. Regardless of being an amateur company, the show was well performed by the cast and the audience loved it giving a standing ovation!
There were a few things that jarred with me slightly in points of which firstly the pace of the action felt a little slow at times and I felt like the tension that was needed in some of the scenes didn’t quite reach the pinnacle which was a shame as it could have been a show stopper! Secondly the music choices in scenes and scene changes were a little disjointed as some were grungy, classical and another that sounded a little like yoga music broke the through line of the story for me as I wasn’t sure what overall style they were going for. Was it contemporary?, was it a classical interpretation? Personally I would have much preferred a score that was all the same style as it became distracting when I heard them. Nevertheless I still thoroughly enjoyed the production and would recommend it particularly for this time of year with Halloween just around the corner it will certainly get you in the SPOOOOOKY mood!