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Monday, October 17, 2011

Theatre Review by Keith Waits: "Frankenstein"


Frankenstein

Written by Nick DiMartino. Adapted from the novel by Mary Shelley.
Directed by Charlie Sexton.

Reviewed by Keith Waits.


Frankenstein is a tale born from a nightmare in the mind of its author, Mary Shelley, and forged through a competition among privileged intellectuals, yet the continuing appeal of this story draws on the powerful concept of man creating life. The ultimate act of hubris: man imagining himself as God.

There are as many film adaptations as there are stars in the sky, and while many of them have been effective essays in horror, few do Shelley justice. This stage adaptation, by Nick DiMartino, hews closer to the source material, maintaining much of the surprisingly complex narrative but fashioning a lean and forthright plot all the same. Victor Frankenstein creates his “monster,” and his life is disassembled piece by piece as a result. The act of creation brings only destruction – the results an inevitable price to pay for such supreme arrogance.

Walden Theatre has mounted a handsome production that features a deluxe two-tier set design by Alec Volz and Clayton Marshall and lovely costumes by Donna Lawrence-Downs. A well-chosen cast puts forth earnest effort punctuated by some above-average work from Hank Paradis as Victor Frankenstein; Calvin Barron as his friend, Henry Clerval; and Noah Bunch as younger brother, William Frankenstein. D.J. Nash is fine as The Creature, nicely capturing brutality and confusion in equal measure with solid assist from Neill Robertson’s effective make-up design.

But the actors’ good work is sometimes undercut by a pace that rushes through important moments rather than letting them breathe and resonate. At its best, the script is genuinely tragic and much more than a genre exercise. But the emotional impact of death and, eventually, sacrifice, is not allowed to register fully with the audience as the action races pell-mell across the stage. This Frankenstein is swift and creepy fun, but it could have been so much more.

Still, memorable moments abound; and when Allison Spanyer as Elizabeth steps out of the shadows – a sepulchral vision – to deliver an all-too-brief epilogue, we get a glimpse of the haunting vision that director Charlie Sexton seems to be reaching for.
  
Frankenstein

Illustration by Theodor Von Holst from the
frontispiece of the 1831 edition.
October 13-15 and 20-22 @ 7:30
October 15 & 22 @ 2:00pm

Walden Theatre
1123 Payne Street
Louisville, KY
(502) 589-0084


Entire contents are copyright © 2011 Keith Waits. All rights reserved.

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