FRNKNSTN – Peacock, Dublin
Writer: Michael West
Director: Muireann Ahearn
“I am not the monster. I am Frankenstein”
Ever since its publication two hundred years ago Frankenstein has been a hit with theatre-goers, being adapted for the stage within five years stage and devoured by the public. This is not surprising. The themes of science, creation, the supernatural and the limits of man’s power and influence are timeless and find a new audience with each generation. A new interpretation from the mind of writer Michael West that interrogates the idea of identity has taken to the Peacock Stage in Dublin.
Before the play began Louis Lovett, who plays each character, walked in front of the stage, down to the theatre goers. While waiting for stragglers he began to count, chat and use his voice to make the audience laugh. This was an excellent touch that eased the audience into the production. He tells a story of when he nearly drowned in the cold water off the coast of Oregon. The allusions to the beginning of the novel take the night from friendly closeness into the drama and electricity of Frnknstn. Subtle and atmospheric the stage darkens and gradually so does the soundscape; embracing the gothic nature of the novel.
Lovett is the only man on stage. He moves from the precocious, attractive, young scientist to the older man, tormented by desire, power, and fear, before slipping once more into the character of the monster. His front teeth blackened, shirt open, movements angry and yet almost childlike. He changes in front of our eyes. A tilted mirror on the back wall emphasises the way in which Frankenstein tilts from one character to the other until we are no longer sure who he is. The stage is uncluttered and gloomy, props are used sparingly.
The monster is commonly mistakenly called Frankenstein, the doctor’s name. The script plays on this, as the lines between the two begin to blur. It works particularly well as a one man show. When Frankenstein feels he has almost godlike power to create life, and in time to end life, using science to place himself above those around him, who really is the monster? The debate of nature versus nurture rages as much now as it did in the early 1800s and is allowed room to breathe in this production.
Sound effects are used very well throughout and Lovett is able to change and manipulate his voice for humour, strangeness and danger as required. Lovett is a consummate performer, at times electric. He is absorbed into the story until he can no longer be seen but the characters of Frankenstein and the monster have taken over.
Runs until 1stSeptember 2018 | Image: Ros Kavanagh