Frankenstein

 

By Bo List

Adapted from the novel by Mary Shelley

Directed by Terry McCabe

A Chicago Premiere

The classic 1818 Shelley novel works nicely on stage from Bo List’s tight adaptation

Director Terry McCabe and adapter Bo List have  mounted a worthy, chilling adaptation of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. Shelly, only 18 years old at the time, wrote Gothic horror novel as part of a competition among her friends and future husband, Percy, as to who could write the “best horror.” She won. Frankenstein is part Gothic novel, part romantic novel, and now, is considered one of the first science fiction novels. The name “Frankenstein” has become associated with “creature,” “monster”, “fiend”, “wretch”, “vile insect”, “daemon”, “being”, and “it.”  The novel influenced all horror stories to follow.

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Bo List’s adaptation flows nicely on stage. From Victor Frankenstein’s (Ed Krystosek) retelling of his creation and adventures with the monster to Captain Walton (Sandy Elias), the story of a dedicated, idealistic scientist trying to relieve the pain in the world unfolds in flashback. Victor Frankenstein will marry his beloved Elizabeth (Jennifer T. Grubb) upon returning from the university where he will study medicine. His pal  Henry (David Fink) accompanies him. While at the university, Victor becomes enamored with the science of recreating humans from dead body parts. His professor warns him about such public pursuits but Victor is determined. He uses new instruments that harness the electricity from lightening to infuse energy into his creations.

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Meanwhile Elizabeth and Victor’s young brother, William (Daniel Pass) and their maid/housekeeper Justine (Catherine Gillespie) live together with Victor’s father (Sandy Elias) in bliss. But when Victor, with Henry’s help, actually succeeds in making a “creature” (Mark Pracht), things quickly get out of control. It seems that The Creature, possessing the Professor’s brain, and totally disoriented, runs out of Victor’s lab into the night. He is now lost to Victor. The Creature is befriended by a blind man, DeLacey (Eustace Allen), who teaches him to read,which actually is recall from previous learning via the Professor. The two bond yet The Creature yearns for a mate as he learns from the Bible is necessary.

Once The Creature returns to Victor and demands that Victor create a mate for him, Victor complies but ultimately destroys the female creature. Without giving away too much of the suspense and action, let me state that the horror and violence upsets Victor’s world as evil dominates. This chilling tale is well paced, vivid, and well acted, especially by Ed Krystosek and Mark Pracht. Seeing a horror novel come alive with chilling effects is difficult to achieve on stage but McCabe’s production hits the mark. It is a graphic retelling of the Frankenstein story filled with empathetic characters and a true monster who quotes Milton and the Bible. It is engaging theatre.

Recommended

Tom Williams

Talk Theatre in Chicago podcast

Date Reviewed: October 2, 2012

For more info checkout the Frankenstein page at theatreinchicago.com

At City Lit Theatre, 1020 W. bryn Mawr, Chicago, IL, call 773-293-3682, www.citylit.org, tickets $28.50, with senior/student. military discounts, Fridays & Saturdays at 8 pm , Sundays at 3pm, some Thursdays -Oct 25 & November 1,  running time is 2 hours, 15 minutes with intermission, through November 4, 2012

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