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Electrifying Theatre: Review of Frankenstein at Wilton’s Music Hall

Where better than Wilton’s for this atmospheric take on Mary Shelley’s famous story? Born from a developed adaptation that started as a school outreach project under the creative aegis of Watermill Theatre, adaptor Tristan Bernays has written a truly unique version of the tale of a creature rejected by his ‘father’, who then educates himself in the ways of humans only to wreak a terrible revenge on his creator.

Frankenstein. George Fletcher. Photo by Philip Tull (3)

It is, of course, a story with many layers and resonances. SEEN was particularly reminded of John Bowlby’s famous theory of attachment. There were also shades of ‘otherness’ (a particularly attractive subject for schoolchildren). George Fletcher’s powerhouse performance as the monster evoked the sense of autistic man-child, the need for love, the eventual forsaking of empathy, and the all-too-human desire for a mate. Fletcher also brought a strong sense of disgust and repression to the role of the scientist Frankenstein, who realises too late the wrongness of his creative urge, and that like all parents, he must take responsibility for his murderous offspring.

Frankenstein. George Fletcher. Photo by Philip Tull (2)

The novel has been given a poetic rhythm that starts boldly with no words at all, framing the monster’s growing awareness of himself and the world in which he has been abandoned with the presence of the Chorus played by Rowena Lennon, who with accordion, recorder and other props guides the monster to self-knowledge. Her maternal presence is less showy but just as powerful. Sometimes she’s a proxy for the scientist Frankenstein and the monster’s own ego, and perhaps for Mary Shelley herself as midwife to the doomed creature.

Frankenstein. George Fletcher. Photo by Philip Tull

The use of sound and live music was particularly effective (a skill that Watermill engenders in its actors); the spare stage was lit not just with conventional lights but also two electric lightbulbs that variously stood in for fire and other props. We all knew how the story ended; the question was, exactly how can that be when there are only two actors on stage? The answer was artful, powerful and entirely satisfying. SEEN recommends.

Credits

Photography Felipe Tull