“I created life. You don’t believe me but it’s true. I didn’t start from scratch of course but out of portions and odd ends I made something –alive. But what I created... it wasn’t a superhuman. It was a monster.”
This brand new take on the classic gothic novel Frankenstein explores the very fabric of what makes us human and prompts the audience to ask more of themselves than ever before.
October is traditionally the ‘spooky season’ and this thriller from Tilted Wig Productions, the team behind The Picture of Dorian Gray, is inspired by Mary Shelley’s original horror story but, under Adaptor and Director Séan Aydon, it is given some very modern sensitivities (not least by the casting of both leads being female) . We are left challenged as to whether perfection is worth pursuing at ANY price?
Shelley used her novel to warn of the consequences of scientific progress ‘at any cost’ in the post Napoleonic Wars; Aydon’s adaptation moves the setting forwards to World War II but still retains the challenge and implications of interfering with nature to create 'perfection' and more importantly the question of "Whose version of perfection ?"
A departure from the usual gothic castles of Hammer horror, this production begins in the frozen Russian wasteland of war torn Europe in 1943; a cold and hungry Dr. Victoria Frankenstein (Eleanor McLoughlin) knocks on the door of a Polish Captain (Basienka Blake), a refugee escaped from one of the German camps, who has been lighting a fire. The Captain allows Victoria into her home for shelter and as Victoria tends to the Captain’s infected hand she explains why she has been wandering the wasteland. She is hunting the creature she made with her experiment in a quest to create the perfect person.
Completely intrigued, the Captain, who has seen the very worst humanity has to offer and has strong views of her own on scientific responsibility, persuades Victoria to tell her full story. With this we are transported back in time to Frankenstein’s gothic laboratory (brilliantly designed by Nicky Bunch), a space in which much of the action takes place with all the brooding gloominess expected with the original foreboding tale.
The brilliant Victoria, assisted by Francine (Annette Hannah), a person of short stature shunned by the village but valued by Victoria, have been experimenting with their attempts to reanimate the dead, driven by a scientist's desire to push the boundaries of possibility with scant regard to the consequences. One fateful evening they succeed but rather than this lead to joyous celebration, they are left despairing over what this actually could mean - the question of what is perfect raises its ugly head, firstly when Francine is mocked by the local alumni and then even more so as the impending war ushers in the new government and their desire to create a super-strength army with all the ominous associations with the promotion of the Aryan race.
The creature, shorn of a name, is brilliantly portrayed by Cameron Robertson. This is not the bumbling, arms outstretched version as portrayed by Boris Karloff or Fred Gwynne, this is an intellectual, sentient being trapped in a rotting body who finds itself an alien in a world in which it wants to be accepted. All too soon the horrors of this world are reflected in the creature's eyes as it realises it is mankind who are the true monsters, driving it to lament its own creation.
There are a lot of the expected tropes which a traditional retelling of Frankenstein brings; Nature vs Nurture, Blind Ambition in the pursuit of perfection, Playing God – themes that resonate to the very core of being human, and human beings, and as such they still ring true today, perhaps even more so with the current conflicts, and drive the question "When you strive for perfection, whose version is the right one?"
This version, supported by a wonderfully dark & evocative soundtrack by Eamonn O’Dwyer is an electrifying reimagining of the world’s favourite horror story that will set minds and spines tingling.