Neptune’s production of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is certainly a twist on the original Victorian story. In print, Frankenstein, although largely captivating, and heavily influential in creating the Science Fiction genre, has a few dry spots. With pages and pages of Victorian letters being written back and forth between Characters it can get a bit tiring. The theater completely skips over all that and performs from a retrospective point of view; the story bounced around enough, to keep even us 21st century viewers entertained from beginning to end.
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The play opens with a fast-forward to Victor and Elizabeth on their wedding night, with Victor confessing to his bride and long time childhood friend, what he has created, and the events that have occurred as a result. Shifty eyed Victor paces back and forth nervously looking out the windows, and ensuring that all doors are locked. The creature promised he would “be with him on his wedding night” and he would get his revenge.
With crackling lights, cap guns exploding, and thunder and lighting crashing through the entire theatre; the set was truly impressive. The theatre was truly alive, and the crowd jumped in their seats, and screamed along with the characters on stage. Numerous blackouts, and flashing lights really helped to set the tone for this ominous play. By scene II we are back in time again, we are catapulted to Victor’s return long after the creature has been brought to life, and news of the death of his brother William has surfaced. The creature is back, and he has some demands.
The play, and the story, is a huge comment on discrimination, neglect and abandonment. The creature is very vocal about how he was deserted, and never accepted because of his appearance. People won’t even give him a chance to show them that he is a kind, gentle person. When people see his face, and mangled body parts, they have already made up their minds and are running scared. The creature has returned to request that Victor take away what he has given him, and put him “out of his misery”.
Being an English graduate, and a teacher of literature, I really appreciated all the references to the age of reason, and the exploration of the mind and body split concept that was so prevalent during Shelley’s time. Victor cannot for the life of him understand how the creature can have feelings of sympathy or of remorse. Victor simply looks at the creature as just a series of body parts strung together, and does not think him capable of learning how to feel emotions. Victor completely neglects the fact that there could have been a logical reason for all events that have happened; like maybe leaving the poor creature to fend for himself all this time?
The unnamed creature, just like everyone else wants to be loved and share in experiencing that love with another. What I think the creature really wanted even more than a lover, was actually someone to take care of him and someone to love him unconditionally. Elizabeth is more like a sister to Victor than an actual lover, and even Victor’s over eager mother thinks so. Only after overhearing Elizabeth speaking fondly to Victor, and longing to take care of him during his “condition”; the creature then realizes that he has no companion to share his life with. However, after his experiences with other humans he feels no human could love him for who he is, but what he wants now, is a bride, and bride of his own “kind”.
When Victor returns to the lab to devise a plan to take the creature out of his misery “part by part, starting with the brain”, so he feels minimal pain, the creature changes his mind. The creature decides he wants a partner, a lady just like him. Victor agrees, and he and Henry head to the graveyard “of course” for parts.
The nameless creature, which was quickly abandoned after being brought to life, looked to Victor like a father, and even God like figure, but when Victor the man who created him immediately ran out on him, and after being repeatedly rejected by society; the creature suggests that he’s learned that no human could love him. Regardless, he still desperately wants a bride, and demands Victor and Henry stay on task. During the process of creating his bride he claims he has learned what love is, he tells Victor love is “a burning in my lungs, and a hammer in my heart”. But when that opportunity was pulled from him then he suggests that he has learned what hate is. Which begs the question, did the world teach him to hate? Or can love conquer all?
Victor creates a woman for the creature, but denies him bringing her to life because he says it’s too big of a chance. “What if she doesn’t love you?” “Who will take care of her?” The creature desperately tries to convince Victor that he will “show her the way”, but Victor decides it is too big of a risk. The creature then assures Victor that he will pay the ultimate price, and to make no mistake he “will be with him on his wedding night”. I won’t spoil the ending just incase you can get in to see the play before it ends on October 9th, and I strongly suggest you do.
As much as we all long to be original in today’s world, there are still common treads that run through us all. The creature just wanted to be cared for and wanted to feel like he belonged. It’s incredible that a piece of literature that was written so long ago is still pertinent to today’s society. The story may have been scrambled in delivery, the characters may have been lifted off the pages, and transformed into beautiful costumes, and the special affects may have been upgraded just a tad, but sadly Mary Shelly’s message still lives on. We’ve come very far in our open-mindedness in embracing difference, but we still have a lot of work to do.
The private reception for their sponsors prior to the show really took this experience up a notch. With tables and tables of sushi, delicious sandwiches, and an open bar; we were all well fed, and fully mingled before the show. The set was great, the actors were great, and the costumes were beautifully tailored. Overall it was a very impressive night. Well-done Neptune! Well done.