With heaps of melodrama, suspense, and romance, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is primed for the stage. Frankenstein’s monster however, is one element that’s hard to imagine IRL. Shelley describes the monster as an eight-foot-tall and unimaginably ugly creature… how would the Blackeyed Theatre group portray him on stage?
Puppetry. Incredible puppetry. The Berkshire-based theatre group bought Frankenstein’s monster to the Playhouse in the form of a sinewy, pallid, imposing puppet. The puppeteers (who doubled as actors) operated in plain sight, yet it was difficult to focus on anything but the lurid monster. The voice work was brilliant too. Moans were harmonised to sound inhuman, and the monster’s tortured speech was convincingly harrowing. One issue with the monster: after gaining consciousness, it seemed to go from 0 to 100 real quick, adapting movement and basic speech almost instantly.
On the other hand, Victor Frankenstein was adapted brilliantly. Ben Warwick was suitably zany, wild-eyed and tormented. Besides the puppet, Warwick was the star of the show. The rest of the troupe came close, complementing each other’s fine adaptions of Shelley’s complex characters. Regarding the set, I was disappointed that the ship doubled as Frankenstein’s lab. This set up meant that the scientist’s equipment consisted of basic wood and rope, rather than anything representing pioneering scientific equipment.
Yet, for a minimal set and a five-person cast, the show was comprehensive and enjoyable. With the addition of makeshift musical instruments, Blackeyed Theatre near mastered ensemble storytelling, bringing Shelley’s tale to life with stunning theatricality.