Michael Moreland (Creature), Ben Castle-Gibb (Frankenstein) and Eilidh Loan (Mary Shelley).

    Picture: Tommy Ga-Ken Wan

Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein

B2 Belgrade Theatre, Coventry


This brilliant stage adaption of Mary Shelley’s well-known Gothic story of Dr Frankenstein and his monster is complex, chilling and compelling.

The tale that grew out of a gruesome competition with future husband Percy Bysshe Shelley to write a horror story includes Mary Shelley (Eilidh Loan) herself explaining on stage the dream she had, the monster she created and her asides to the audience are often funny and always passionate. She implies strongly that the real monster she created was actually Dr Frankenstein himself.

The monster (Michael Moreland) as a creation of Dr Frankenstein (Ben Castle-Gibb) are both the creations of her 18-year-old mind and the characters that people her writing bring a vitality, literally, to her novel. Dr Frankenstein’s family is doomed by his creation of the monster and his inability to see beyond the science to the responsibility to his creation to provide love, care and comfort.

Frankenstein’s young, patient but doomed love Elizabeth (Natali McCleary), his young brother William and friend Henry (Thierry Mabonga), servant-friend Justine (Sarah MacGillivray) and father (Greg Powrie) all pay the price for this inability in various ways.

I loved the hard-working set, the bleached trees that provide ladders to the balcony and a chilling monochrome create a scene of both science and writing at work. The upside-down tree at the back of the stage initially was a puzzle but provides a setting for the more otherworldly events as the story unfolds – very clever. Mary Shelley is on stage throughout, unseen by her characters but occasionally physically moving them around the stage, taking props from their hands or providing new costumes.

There’s a lot to admire here but my neighbours were terrified of the incredibly realistic thunder claps and physically jumped out of their seats. Sound effects, light effects and subtle music add immeasurably to the feeling of panic, horror and doom that permeates. Mary Shelley is describing the novel-writing process and deciding as she goes whether Frankenstein will live happily ever after; well, who’d spoil a good ending, not me. Written by Rona Munro and directed by Patricia Benecke, the good doctor and his creation will be caring people out of their wits to 12-10-19

Jane Howard


Index page Belgrade Reviews A-Z Reviews by Theatre