Frankenstein, the classic novel by Mary Shelley, has been retold, transformed and filmed in many different ways with alternative endings and plot lines ever since the novel was written in 1818. Only such creative minds would be able to tell a story which has already been told again and again, yet still find ways for the audience to be captivated. The performance was re-imaged in a way which has never been thought of before, giving a whole new twist and insight to the story of Frankenstein and the crazed scientist.
Perhaps Selma Dimitrijevic’s version of the novel would have only suited today’s audience (society), as the most obvious change to be made was the gender of the Dr Frankenstein. Dr victor Frankenstein became Dr Victoria Frankenstein. Although seemingly an obvious move to change the sex of the main protagonist, it strangely has never been done before until now. Set in a fictional or more advanced 18th century, women are allowed to go to university although they cannot become actual practicing Doctors. Victoria is a young, passionate and troubled soul who is set on there no longer being any pain or grief from losing a loved one, by reversing death. We can only assume that this concept of hers stemmed from the death of her mother. The actress Polly Frame, who played the role of Victoria, was great on stage. She really brought to life this version of Dr Frankenstein. It was almost like watching her crazy mind right there on the stage.
Another huge difference and perhaps one that I missed most in this version is the making of the creature. Not to give too much away but there’s no bolts or the stitching of several different human body parts to make one body. There’s nothing like that at all. This creature is simply a body of a dead man brought to life through her experiments. If the construction of the creature was shown on stage, then maybe it would have brought more excitement and that ‘thriller’ element to it. Ed Gaughan who played the creature was endearing and almost funny with his childlike mind whilst at times a little creepy. More than it being a thriller, the play has a slight humorous undertone especially in the first half of the play which made the characters more likeable. All the actors performed well.
The set designed by Tom Piper was beautiful yet simple at the same time. The huge reflective and rusted glass cabinets created the most beautiful, abstract reflections and shapes whilst the actors were on stage. It created that similar effect of when someone walks past a vase and it distorts the shape of them.
Giving the play a score out of five I would have to give it a three. It was not what I was expecting from Frankenstein and although it was enjoyable to watch, I was expecting a lot more. I wanted to be scared and although the lightening gave it that gothic feel, I was still left wanting more. I jumped once when the creature came alive but after that there wasn’t much more. The trailer was a lot more exciting than the actual play. I would not describe it as “an edge of your seat thriller” as said on the poster for the play. One comment from someone was “Why would you change Dr Frankenstein to a woman, it’s like changing James Bond to a woman it doesn’t make sense.” I think it was an area that had not been explored and needed to be, especially as we are in 2017. The novel was written almost 200 years ago yet no one had considered this idea. The only other adaptation of Frankenstein that I can think of where a woman has a role in the making of the creature is the 2015 movie by Bernard Rose, but never has Dr Frankenstein been a woman before and for that, credit has to be given to the writer for having the boldness to switch it up in that way and coming up with the whole concept.
If you are interested in watching Dr Frankenstein which is a little different to the ones you have probably seen before and want to form your own opinion, then you can go a see this screen play at the Nuffield Theatre from Monday 3rd till Saturday 8th April – so be quick about it!