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Frankenstein

14th November 2023 - 18th November 2023

 

A new story inspired by the classic novel by Mary Shelley
Written and directed by Séan Aydon.

1943. Whilst Europe tears itself apart, two women hide from their past at what feels like the very end of the world. And one of them has a terrifying story to tell…

“I created life. You don’t believe me but it’s true. I didn’t start from scratch of course but out of portions and odd ends I made something –alive. But what I created… it wasn’t a superhuman. It was a monster.”

This new thriller from the team behind The Picture of Dorian Gray, inspired by the classic gothic novel and complete with a stunning original score explores the very fabric of what makes us human and the ultimate cost of chasing “perfection”.

Frankenstein is an electrifying reimagining of the world’s favourite horror story that will set minds and spines tingling.

Not suitable for under 12s

Running Time: Approx 2hrs 

There will be a post-show discussion in the Festival Theatre following the Thursday evening performance. Free admission to ticket-holders.


ACCESS PERFORMANCE:

The performance on Wednesday 15th November at 2.30pm will be Audio Described.

There will also be a touch tour prior to this performance.

Advanced booking is essential. Please contact Bridget Lloyd (bridget@malvern-theatres.co.uk) or 01684 580956.


Photo credit: Robling Photography

Details

Start:
14th November 2023
End:
18th November 2023
Event Categories:
, , , ,

Venue

Festival Theatre
Grange Road
Malvern, WR14 3HB

Other

Price:
Tues Eve & Wed Mat: £31.36 £29.12 £25.76 £22.40 £19.04
Wed-Thurs Eves & Sat Mat: £33.60 £31.36 £28 £24.64 £21.28
Fri & Sat Eves: £35.84 £33.60 £30.24 £26.88 £23.52
£2 Concessions Over 60s/Unwaged; Under 26s All Seats £11.20
Members Discounts Apply
Price Incudes 12% Booking Fee
Show Times:
Tuesday 14th to Saturday 18th November
Eves 7.30pm; Wed & Sat Mats 2.30pm

Event Reviews

  • Keith O'Hara

    Awesome acting, such passion from the Doctor and Francine… and the ‘monster’ was impeccable. The flighty and happy Elisabeth didn’t look like she was even acting – so natural.
    Thanks for an amazing evening; despite the half empty theatre you all performed splendidly and we enjoyed it tremendously.

  • Stephen Cox

    A very accomplished cast gave an impressive performance with a slightly different take on a classic story it deserved a larger audience go to see it you will not be disappointed.

  • Showtime! John Phillpott

    If my memory serves me correctly, the first time I encountered Mary Shelley’s monster was in a black and white movie on the telly one rainy, late 1960s Sunday afternoon.

    Full of beer and roast beef, I watched with fascination as the grunting beast, played with great pathos by Boris Karloff, lurched about in its prison, the 12-inch Bush gogglebox in my family home, until being hunted down by a mob of vicious bumpkins living in some Transylvanian hellhole of a village.

    Back then, I recall being filled with pity for our monosyllabic monster. After all, he hadn’t asked to be created out of odd bits and bobs gathered from the local graveyard, had he?

    The beast’s vocabulary in the 1931 movie was fairly basic I recall. Just a series of cowshed type noises, hardly the stuff that keeps an actor up till midnight trying to learn his or her lines.

    Well, you can forget about all that in this Tilted Wig version. Our monster not only has a chip on both his hunched shoulders, but is also a Shakespeare-quoting psycho, intent on wreaking vengeance on a pitiless world.

    He’s also capable of travel, so presumably can fill out all the necessary forms to get a passport. Doctor Frankenstein has certainly upped her game these days.

    Yes indeed. Adapter and director Sean Aydon’s abominable no-man has little regard for humankind, not even for the creator he calls ‘mother’. For this is a ‘reimagining’ that differs from the original in any number of ways.

    Set in Nazi period Germany, the creature seems to be a metaphor for the nightmare that is the Third Reich, a vile genie that once out of the doctor’s test tube, cannot be put back.

    The audience is asked to contemplate the implications of limitless experimentation. What would happen if an army of these murderous mutants could be created by some clone prince of national socialism?

    Devoid of any morality, this robot army could then go on the rampage, inflicting murder and misery on millions, and not worry about sustaining heavy casualties. All right, this actually did happen without the use of automatons, but hey, don’t let a bit of nit-picking spoil things.

    Eleanor McLoughlin as the hapless Victoria Frankenstein gradually eases into her role, and lets the tension slowly build until the electrodes are ready to pop, the ever-obliging weather supplying endless thunder and lightning flashes.

    It’s impossible not to feel sorry for our bewildered boffin as the utter horror of what she has done starts to sink in. Basienka Blake as icy party hack Richter further adds to her woes when she announces that the regime has ordered Frankenstein to drastically expand her experiments on creating life.

    Further Nazi gross unpleasantness manifests in Richter’s master race attitude towards Francine (Annette Hannah) who has replaced Igor in the original story as the doctor’s ever-faithful assistant.

    Meanwhile, Cameron Robertson’s creature is running amok, creating murder and mayhem. Before long, poor Henry (Dale Mathurin) and the doctor’s coquettish sister Elizabeth (Lula Marsh) are no more, her endlessly pouting lips and fluttering eyelashes stilled forever.

    It’s around this time that the monster starts to quote from Hamlet. Wow. An entity assembled from mortuary floor sweepings capable of rivalling the very best that Stratford has to offer. That’s German engineering for you. Isn’t modern science wonderful? Vorsprung durch technik and all that.

    So where’s all this going? My guess is that Sean Aydon’s Tilted Wig is in fact taking a tilt at the current rise of artificial intelligence, which is already starting to infiltrate human endeavour.

    To be sure, he takes endless liberties with the Shelley story, but by doing so, he reminds us that history shows how humankind can so easily be the author of its own downfall.

    Therefore, this bold remake could be said to have a new relevance in an age where the future of our species, because of recent developments, may yet well be in doubt… unless, of course, we heed the lessons of the past.

  • British Theatre Guide - Colin Davison

    Two hundred years after Mary Shelley published Frankenstein, her tale of a living creature manufactured from body parts may seem too far-fetched, just as science may seem to have overtaken the science fiction of Jules Verne or H G Wells.

    Then consider advances in artificial intelligence, the recent report of the world’s first eye transplant, not to mention previous uncorroborated stories of a Chinese scientist creating life in a test-tube.

    But it does not need that 21st century context to make this gripping adaptation resonate with modern audiences. Sean Aydon, who also directs, has reshaped the story into a powerful allegory that questions whether scientists should be held responsible for the potential consequences of their discoveries.

    The setting is a period around the time of the Second World War. Word has spread that Dr Victoria Frankenstein has created a living being and she comes under pressure from the fascist authorities to repeat the experiment, this time to produce a superman.

    The message of the piece is underlined not only by the horror with which her ill-formed creature is regarded by everyone he meets, but also by Aydon specifying that Victoria’s partner, Henry, is black, and assistant Francine a person of short stature. The government agent, with her twisted theory of eugenics, turns rudely away from both.

    Tension vibrates through the piece from the first hammering knocks on the door of an isolated hut to the literally electrifying moment when the cadaver is charged with life. The creature escapes, educates himself to a remarkable degree, but learns that humans are cruel and so becomes cruel himself. "You are a monster," Eleanor McLoughlin’s Frankenstein tells him. "So what does that make you?" he replies.

    McLoughlin embodies the equivocal figure of the scientist obsessed by her work, potentially for human good, potentially for ill, oblivious of consequences for family or the world at large. Cameron Robertson, in prosthetics that take 90 minutes in make-up every night, gives a searing performance as the lonely creature, from his first crab-like steps to quoting words of Hamlet to express his mental torment.

    Annette Hannah is impressive as Francine, a voice of conscience fronting up to Dr Frankenstein’s temptation to collaborate with a truly monstrous government, and Basienka Blake doubles up effectively both as a victim of the regime and as one of its agents. Lula Marsh as Victoria’s sister and Dale Mathurin as Henry complement a strong line-up.

    Designer Nicky Bunch’s elaborate set, with lighting design by Matt Haskins, effectively represents both the clinical but rather eerie feeling of Frankenstein’s laboratory and the forest cabin at which Frankenstein arrives in search of her fugitive creation.

    The current touring production concludes in Eastbourne in November and will go on the road again in the autumn of 2024. Hopefully it will still be accompanied by one of the best printed programmes I have read, which includes a reproduction of the frontispiece of the original Mary Shelley novel (which appeared without the author’s name), articles on design and make-up for the production and, most interestingly, passages from the book with their rendition into dialogue.

  • The View from the Stalls - Pete Phillips

    Tilted Wig continue their aim of presenting classic tales in a unique way, having previously performed their version of Around the World in 80 Days earlier this year in Malvern.

    This time they have turned their attention to Frankenstein, adapted for he company by Séan Aydon. This is the classic tale from the pen of Mary Shelley, one of the New Romantics, a group which included Lord Byron and her husband Percy Shelley, with whom she had a secret affair when she was just 16. Had it not been for a volcanic eruption in 1815, which meant that the group were effectively marooned on the shores of Lake Geneva, this "ghost story" might never have been written as it was Byron's own suggestion to create a story to pass the time.

    Here, that story begins with the aftermath in a cabin belonging to "Captain" where "Victoria" unexpectedly arrives, cold and hungry. The reason why she is there is then uncovered, as she is indeed Victoria Frankenstein and as the cabin is removed from the stage, the clinical location of her experiment is revealed. With dramatic use of lighting to awaken the body she has created and a few shocks for the audience along the way, the experiment is initially deemed a failure. Until, whilst left alone on stage, the creature eventually does awaken only to disappear before the doctor and her assistant return… It is some years later when it comes back to question its creation and to wreak its inevitable revenge.

    The six-strong cast perform this interpretation with the company's usual panache, leaving you to decide on the "scientific" nature of the process of creation. Left alone, the monster becomes destructive so would his ultimate request for the doctor to create another creature be beneficial to him - and society in general - or make the situation worse? In spite of being written 200 years ago, this situation becomes all the more realistic - and worrying - with the current obsession with Artificial Intelligence.

    Frankenstein has become synonymous with experiments gone wrong. Though it should, of course, be Frankenstein's un-named creation. As Mary Shelley declared in the wonderful Horrible Histories homage to the New Romantics: "My story will blow you away… People still think Frankenstein was the monster's name". And it will forever be the case, no doubt.


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