Frankenstein/Malvern Theatres


THERE are two emotions that must be felt once we get to know The Monster. And they are revulsion and pity.

The former because the creature must be suitably revolting… and the latter which then follows on, because we should by then become slightly ashamed for our own unkind thoughts about a being that never asked to be here in the first place.

To be sure, Michael Moreland’s monster roars a great deal, takes human life in much the same way that we might casually peel a banana and slowly eat it, and does the Boris walk with style.

That’s ‘Boris’ as in Karloff by the way, not our Prime Minister.

But try as he may, this fiend looks more like a prog rocker from the 1970s. Either that or a bleach-streaked ex-pat Brit wine bar owner slightly down on his luck on one of the Spanish Costas.

Having said all that, I loved the idea of Mary Shelley herself writing her classic play with all the characters conforming to every stroke of her pen in real time.

Shelley, played with a bird-like energy by Eilidh Loan, is like an old-style reporter at a football match, madly scribbling away in her notebook.

She is, of course, the true Frankenstein, although officially that honour goes to Ben Castle Gibb, a man who soon rues the day that he started fooling about with wires and electrodes.

There are lots of messages that come through, via a set as grey as any cadaver. But very few of them are actually connected to mindless beasts lurching through pea soup fogs and howling like banshees.

The central theme seems to be the limitless folly and vanity of Mankind. Whether he plays God with Nature or Creation, our species will inevitably screw everything up. Just a glance around the present-day world, to Australia for example, seems to prove this.

Ironically, Mary Shelley created her great work in 1816, a period that has gone down in history as the ‘year without a summer’, such was the catastrophic weather.

And although human-created climate change was not probably to blame back then, you could say it was a harbinger of things to come.

Frankenstein runs until Saturday (January 18th) and poses more questions than it answers.

John Phillpott