Wed 10th – Thurs 11th Feb
“Do not pity me – you brought a child into this world & he is miserable!”
Script Stagecraft: Performance
A couple of hundred years ago, the English literati were discussing an anonymously written novel in the presence of the young Mary Shelley. ‘Perhaps it was written by a woman,‘ she suggested, only to be met with laughter & ridicule. Born from the gothic fermentation of the post-krakatoan apocolypse of 1815, when at the Villa Diodati the Shelleys & Byron swapped ghost stories throughout the dismal rainy summer of 1816, Frankenstein is an eternal classic. The idea of bringing corpses to life is a haunting one – & one still not realized outside films & TV series such as the Walking Dead. Mary’s own story has spawned thousands of spin-offs, including RN Sandberg’s play, which has just been capably performed by the Edinburgh University Theatre Company.
Set in the novel’s final scenes, but full of retrospective & psychodrama, this play is a moving piece which penetrates to the core of Mrs Shelley’s concepts of good & evil, of life & love, of birth & rejection – the raw primality of existence – with genuine tension-builds & a cataclysmic finish. The production was excellently-acted, perhaps a little too vigorously, with hardly a pause for breath. Outstanding performances came from the Monster itself, played by Jai Sharma, whose broad Yorkshire accent seemed rather apt for the role, & his ‘mate’ multi-playing Jennifer Jones, whose final hideous part was the best of her three. Also exceptional was Kelechi Hafstad’s Elizabeth – whose well-nuanced passage through the emotions was a joy to watch.
The only thing which let the play down was the set; which attempted to recreate the Arctic, but looked more like someone had splurged a huge tube of toothpaste all over the place. The final scene offered the stagecraft some redemption, however, when at the burning of the monster the set was illuminated in a bright & moody orange. This moment of purification, as if lifted from the Ramayana, was a thrilling way to end the play. Still, student theatre is more about the mood, I feel, & the company captured the feel of the story with a keen ability & I was very glad I bobbed along that night. That evening, by the way, was freezing, as was the Bedlam Theatre, which really did help transport one to the icy North.
Reviewer : Damo Bullen