Review by  Barry Lenny

The Adelaide Repertory Theatre Society is presenting Frankenstein, using Nick Dear‘s script, written for the National Theatre and first performed in London in 2011. The production is directed by Kerrin White, who has done an excellent job of bringing it to life.

Frankenstein, or, The Modern Prometheus, was written by English author Mary Shelley and published in 1818. She was only 18 when she began writing it, and it was published when she was still only 20. Victor Frankenstein is a young scientist with unorthodox ideas, and he assembles parts of deceased bodies to create a living being. The Creature is as innocent as a newborn baby, but his hideous appearance appals his creator, and frightens the local villagers who attempt to capture and kill him, after he is abandoned by Frankenstein. He is taken in by a blind ex-academic, Delacey, and taught to speak, to read, and to reason, but his appearance is always against him. He bargains with Frankenstein to create a woman to be his wife but, having done so, Frankenstein destroys her in fear of their breeding a new race like themselves, and the Creature wreaks his revenge.

Steven Parker gives the performance of his career as the Creature, a performance which is sure to go down in the annals of The Rep as one of the greatest in the history of the company. The ticket booking line should be running hot, and every house should be full. His faultless interpretation of the role is at the very core of this production, lifting way above the ordinary. Initially, the Creature is scared at suddenly finding it has come into existence, fully grown, with no memories of how it got there. It is angry, hungry, and bewildered. It is fascinated by simple things, even discovering its own abilities to move in various ways. Parker takes his character back to that baby-like stage with a wonderful simplicity, broken by mistreatment at the hands of others.

Parker develops the Creature slowly as it encounters the natural world and people, people who are judgemental, violent, and ignorant. Mary Shelley shows us man’s inhumanity to man, prejudice, intolerance, and fear of “the other”. Even when the Creature becomes knowledgeable, learned, and erudite, able to integrate into society in every other way, his looks are still all that other people register, and they reject him because of that.

Parker brings pathos to the role and we feel for him in his struggles to be accepted. Forget the mindless, violent beast of so many past adaptations. This is no monster, although you might well leave the theatre realising that he was surrounded by monsters. Parker presents us with a man who, hopefully, would today have his disfigurements overlooked, and be accepted for the fine person within, although one cannot help but doubt that.

Yes, there is some nudity, to begin with, but it is not gratuitous, nor is it pornographic, it is integral to the story, as is the occasional violence and the extremely brief simulated rape scene. If these are your excuses for staying away from this superb production, I pity you for missing a sensational event.

Around Parker is an ensemble, most of whom play between three and five roles, the exception being Patrick Clements, who plays Victor Frankenstein, and eight-year-old Charlie Zorkovic, who plays the young William Frankenstein.

Tarsha Cameron, Tom Carney, Brad Martin, Rosie Williams, and Don O’Donnell cover all of the other roles between them, with a few quick changes of costume and the creation of different characters along the way, with Williams playing Victor’s intended, Elizabeth, and Carney playing Delacey, the more central characters to the story.

Director, Kerrin White, has maintained a high level of Gothic atmosphere, his sets, and the lighting, by Jason Groves, adding to the darkness of the narrative. Make sure that you see this production.

Book NOW, or kick yourself forever. You only have from Wednesday to Saturday this coming week to catch this production. Book through trybooking or telephone on 8212 5777.

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