Monday, 19 January 2009

Frankenstein

I'm definitely feeling better today, although I wouldn't say 100% yet, but at least I'm more mobile, my fever and achiness has gone and my head is a bit clearer. I'm lucky in that I generally get really sick for about a day and then it seems to move on. I think the Ibuprofen I took when I got up helped, too.

I've been prompted to write a review on "Frankenstein" by Arual, who is currently reading the book. I have to admit here - like I did at the show - that I've never read it, so don't really have a good insight to any comparisons! Having seen the show, though, I think the book is going on my "to do" list. That's just to keep in mind as I don't know how Mary Shelley originally wrote the characters.

The basic review:

The production was put on by the Catalyst Theatre, from Edmonton. There were 8 actors who played a total of about 40 characters in total. It could have been very confusing, but it was beautifully done and we were able to follow along with no trouble at all.

The sets and costumes were very minimal, organic and Seuss-like in nature. The costumes and sets were mostly white - only a few characters had any colour to them - and seemed to be made of paper (the odd bit would fall off and they rustled slightly), which allowed the lighting to create quite dramatic effects. The first set consisted of the players and one very simple representation of a chateau. Lighting was kept to a miminum as well, so you had no choice but to pay attention to the actors and the story as it played out. The accompanying music was a beautiful mix of classical and modern and the story played out as part poem and part opera. By all accounts it was a really unique and modern take on a classic gothic story, almost balletic in parts.

The second set was my favourite. This was the graveyard where the trees and grave markers were very Suess-like, again, all white. The trees were tall, curly and slender and this is also where you met the monster for the first time, albeit briefly. The lighting and the accompanying music were what really set the mood for the darkening theme, which I really liked. While some shows rely a lot on background sets, this was simple and very effective with the "less is more" theme. One scene towards the end has the cast carrying umbrellas; old umbrellas where most of the material has been removed and there are "pom poms" on the end of the metal arms. It's a sombre scene, made a little lighter with the fun props.

One of the final sets was simple gauzy material strung up to represent mountains, forest and the memory of a town square. In between, when there were no sets, per se, simple props filled in the blanks: a metal table and a light acted as a laboratory, for example.

I'm not sure about everyone else in the audience, but I was mesmerized from the beginning. The characters, apart from being "real" were also quirky and fun. It was a unique take on a classic "horror" film/story, but you really got the idea behind the story. Who was the real monster? The creator or the created? All the monster wanted was love (from his creator, his "father", at least), yet people hated him because of how he looked. It's a statement of something people have always done - judged others based on how they appear.

They deserved every moment of the standing ovation they got.

Not the greatest review (I need some practice, I know!), but honestly it was a simply amazing play, wonderfully acted and truly unique and if you ever get the chance to see it, I highly recommend it.

3 comments:

Sharon Rose said...

Hi there-so pleased you're feeling much better!

Saver Queen said...

Hope you continue to feel better!!

Arual said...

Thank you!
It sounds like a mesmerizing play. Last year I went and watched the Alberta Ballet perform Dangerous Liasons. They had the acting on a back stage and the ballet danceers would dance the feelings out in front. It was beautiful, simple and made me want to read the classic. Frankenstein the novel is nothing I imagined it to be. Somewhere in time (I am thinking around the 1980s) the story changed up into the cartoony version that most people think of when Frankenstein is mentioned. I was worried that your play was going to be like that, but it sounds like they followed the Mary Shelly version really well.
Again, thanks for writing this for me :)