Rona Munro’s adaptation of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein has just arrived in Aberdeen and will be on stage at His Majesty Theatre until Saturday 8 February. Thrilling and terrifying like the classic horror novel, it is also a modern and empowering take for many young women.
The show pays homage to the classic story presenting everything that made the story famous; the themes, the gloomy atmosphere, Dr. Frankenstein, his monster and even a few jump scares.
Yet, Mary Shelley (Eilidh Loan) is the heart of the show. She is a talented young woman who arguably invented both the horror genre in one fell swoop. She is tormented, frustrated, ambitious, sassy and much more. She not only writes a groundbreaking piece of literature but also makes peace with her own monsters. By the end, she truly knows her power. Loan’s character is a constant presence on stage as she directs the other characters, creates them, and, empathises with them. Her performance is striking and simply powerful!
The supporting cast, including Ben Castle Gibb (Dr. Frankenstein) and Michael Moreland (the monster), match Loan’s energy and bring the entire show to life! Their portrayals of pain and human desires are brilliant and make for very sympathetic versions of their characters.
All actors use the set particularly well, especially as they climb up and down tree-like stairs to pass from one story to another. The stage is cleverly organised and serves both outdoor and indoor scenes. The overall pallor of balconies, windows, and trees gives the audience a glimpse of the chilling atmosphere typical of all horrors.
Simon Slater’s music and Grant Anderson’s lighting also play an important role in bringing life to scenes, with thunderstorms and effective colours.
Yet, this adaptation of 'Frankenstein' is never overly scary and does not distract from the big themes of time, death, love and prejudice. There are more than a few sarcastic comments towards ambitious men in the show but it also portrays an ambitious woman.
The 200-year-old story has been interpreted in many ways and Mary Shelley’s figure has been approached before. Still, Rona Munro’s unique adaptation manages to appeal to both admirers of the classic piece of literature and to 21st-century women.