Frnknstn – Abbey Theatre (Peacock Stage) – Review
17 August – 1 September 2018
As you enter the theatre the sole member of the cast, Louis Lovett, is already amongst the audience. He is intermittently bursting into song and having brief discussions with members of the crowd. This unusual opening gives you the impression that this is an unorthodox telling of the familiar story of Frankenstein. What we get is a modernised version of events told through the eyes of Victor Frankenstein, the man who dabbled with things that should be left to the gods!
Frankenstein was written by Mary Shelley and published anonymously on the 1st of January 1818 when she was only 20 years old! This year marks the 100 year anniversary of its release. The story tells of a mad scientist and his attempts to create new life. The novel was written in epistolary form and told from a number of different perspectives, including that of the monster itself. This new version is written by Michael West and uses the base material as inspiration to create something quite new. The work embraces recent discoveries and technology, with talk of stem cells and DNA. Our protagonist is a scientist at the forefront of his chosen field who witnessed the death of his mother due to a hereditary disease. He is now trying to cure it, for his own sake and that of his family. The play is set in what looks like an interrogation room, long after the events have unfolded with Victor taking an unseen audience through the tale.
The set design (by Ger Clancy) is quite minimal, with a gurney and several other items typical to a scientist’s lair. An angled mirror hangs overhead which allows the audience to see things from a different perspective. The stage is kept quite dark for the most part, with stark lighting by Sarah Jane Shiels. It all helps to create an atmosphere or dread and confusion.
This version of the story is quite far removed from the original. While the story is impressive, the performance by Lovett adds considerably to the tale. He adds flourishes with mime, song and various flights of fancy, like the mind of the scientist is constantly changing. The use of humour is also unexpected as the world of horror is generally taken quite seriously. The main impression we get is of someone who is unhinged. His mind is unstable and we’re not sure of the truth of his version of events. This ambiguity is important to this tale and Lovett revels in this space. The production has many interesting ideas and is quite different than you would expect.
Duration – Approx 1 hour
Cast: Louis Lovett
Writer: Michael West
Director: Muireann Ahern
Set Design: Ger Clancy
Lighting Design: Sarah Jane Shiels
Composer and Sound Design: Dunk Murphy
Ingénieur: Jack Phelan
Costume Design: Liadain Kaminska
Sculptural Works: Ger Clancy and Matthew Kennedy in association with ArtFx Ltd
Make Up Consultant: Lorraine McCrann
Production Manager: Lisa Mahony
Theatre Lovett Stage Manager: Clare Howe
Abbey Theatre Stage Manager: Tara Furlong
Producer: Jeanine MacQuarrie
Publicity and Production Photography: Ros Kavanagh