Subscribe      List an Event or Business      Invite a Writer      Write for WN      Writers      Other Locations
list an event      1 million Australian readers every month      facebook

Frankenstein: Ensemble Theatre - Review

Home > Sydney > Theatre | Performing Arts
by Ben Barnes (subscribe)
Sydney based Student, Writer and L-Plater. Peruse my blog:
Published April 27th 2013

"I am the one who stands at the door and sees in, but daren't not go inside"

The story of Frankenstein is one of the best known tales of modern literature. Originally written by Mary Shelley in 1818, The Frankenstein production at the Ensemble theatre has been adapted and re-written for the stage by Nick Dear and directed by Mark Kilmurry. The story and overall effect of the story is changed with the dramatic inclusion of Frankenstein's (the monster, played by Lee Jones) learned ability to speak.

Frankenstein by Nick Dear

In the opening scenes of the play we are given very little context, most of which is pieced together from notions the audience are expected to understand already. The monster is unveiled, grunting and groaning, and he slowly finds his feet, fresh from the scientific table of his construction. We are denied Dr Viktor Frankenstein's iconic "It's Alive!" to start the play. Instead the monster stumbles confusedly about a mixture of fearful peasants who beat him for his gross vulgarity.

The bulk of the play takes place in a blind man's home, in which the monster stumbles into. The blind man befriends the monster and sets about 'civilising' and teaching him English and ideas of human morality. The monster takes particular interest in John Milton's Paradise lost, from which this adaptation is extensively referenced. He is consumed by existential woe and the great weight of unknowing and he craves completion through a lover and seeks out his creator so he may build a woman whom he may love.

Lee Jones spits, moans, writhes and stumbles his way around the play in quite an astonishing performance as the monster which, while impressive often sheds a harsher light on the weaknesses of the play surrounding him. The supporting roles of peasants are one dimensionally written and acted the same way. The Blind man (played by Michael Ross) has something of a Disney quality to his disposition, which swings from endearing to tiring as the play progresses, and Dr Frankenstein himself (played by Andrew Henry) is narcissistic to the point of disbelief. Dr. Frankenstein's wife (played by Katie Fitchett), who doubles as the monster's wife-to-be for a period, has some interesting sections, but ultimately fails to materialise within the confines of the oppressive script.

In the end I was left wondering whether the adaptation was worth it. Philosophically we are asked to interrogate the monster's experience as a man with no equivalent, born with original sin but no hope of redemption. Simultaneously we question the god complex of Dr. Frankenstein and his scientific disconnect from themes of morality and the right to existence. These ideas are interesting, but presented in a very dated style, many steps behind the relevance of scientific and existential struggle experienced by people today.

All in all I felt the play was philosophically out of its depth. Lee Jones is very impressive in his monstrous affectation, but he's a bright spark on a fairly dull cast and a patchy script. Moments of inspiration punctuate what is a fairly arduous progression, through an unimaginative set.

2 stars out of 5.
Help us improve  Click here if you liked this article  9
Share: email  facebook  twitter
Why? One of the best known tales of modern literature.
When: 17 April - 4 May
Where: The Ensemble Theatre
Cost: $25 - $63
Your Comment
My school saw this last week and as we are studying the novel found it to be a wonderful take on the original story. I personally find this story extremely relevant as I struggle with me weight and recieve harsh judgements based on my appearance everyday. You also refer to Lee Jones as Frankenstein, which is very ignorant for someone writing a review. The Creature is never given a name, Frankenatein is the doctor who makes him. We found the acting of Delacey very accurate to the disposition that Mary Shelly writes for him and victor was excellent, if anything he is the biggest representation of modern day context, a bully, a friend who stabs you in the back and when he morphed at the end it was very disturbing. I just thought you should hear another perspective as this is a very inaccurate account of the same play I saw.
by Jessi (score: 0|2) 2660 days ago
Thankyou for correcting me on the name oversight. I suppose my criticisms go as far as suggesting Shelley is an outmoded author for today's theatre as well. I respect your 'other perspective' and appreciate you taking the time to explain it, but I find your use of the word 'inaccurate' in the same sentence somewhat problematic for something you've just qualified as being subjective.
by Ben Barnes (score: 0|4) 2660 days ago
More Sydney articles
Articles from other cities
Top Events
Popular Articles