FRANKENSTEIN Ensemble Theatre

BY NICK DEAR

FRANKENSTEIN
Play 4
FROM:
APRIL 17
DIRECTED BY:
MARK KILMURRY
CAST INCLUDES:
KATIE FITCHETT
ANDREW HENRY
LEE JONES
BRIAN MEEGAN
MICHAEL REBETZKE
MICHAEL ROSS
OLIVIA STAMBOULIAH
CELLIST: HEATHER STRATFOLD
RUNNING TIME:
115 MINS NO INTERVAL

Thrilling, moving, scary and beautiful – a man born as an adult has to survive on his wits, learning fast. This is a rollercoaster ride of a story, fast, furious, haunting and entertaining… a Frankenstein with a mission. Mary Shelley’s classic tale is reimagined in a spine-tingling new version by Nick Dear – not for the faint hearted!

FRANKENSTEIN is an astonishing adaptation and it was a huge hit for the National Theatre in 2011. The play gives the Creature a voice – this is a Creature that talks, that can be articulate about the way he feels – and the way he feels is very angry. We’ve got some exciting young talent on stage in this piece – it’s going to be something very scary indeed.

Recommended for audiences 14+

A troupe of actors arrive to put on a play of Frankenstein. These actors dance, juggle, act, tumble. They set the bare stage: a scenic design capturing the gothic darkness of Mary Shelley’s novel; flaming torches light the back walls; actors exit and enter the acting circle, while other actors watch their scenes; make up is applied; blood, dirt; a cello player, half human, half creature plays stirring music; the creature comes to life in a burst of light and steam; the images of anatomy flash on back walls; heartbeats pound in the darkness… another flash of light … the creature tries to speak! And the play begins…

Fast, furious, dynamic, dark, funny, cheeky, scary, compelling… Frankenstein.

DIRECTOR MARK KILMURRY

Perfomance Date Performance Time
Wednesday, April 17 2013 8:15pm
Thursday, April 18 2013 11:00am
Thursday, April 18 2013 8:15pm
Friday, April 19 2013 8:15pm
Saturday, April 20 2013 5:00pm
Saturday, April 20 2013 8:30pm
Sunday, April 21 2013 5:00pm
Tuesday, April 23 2013 11:00am
Tuesday, April 23 2013 7:30pm
Wednesday, April 24 2013 8:15pm
Friday, April 26 2013 11:00am
Friday, April 26 2013 8:15pm
Saturday, April 27 2013 5:00pm
Saturday, April 27 2013 8:30pm
Sunday, April 28 2013 5:00pm
Tuesday, April 30 2013 11:00am
Tuesday, April 30 2013 7:30pm
Wednesday, May 1 2013 8:15pm
Thursday, May 2 2013 11:00am
Thursday, May 2 2013 8:15pm
Friday, May 3 2013 11:00am
Friday, May 3 2013 8:15pm
Saturday, May 4 2013 5:00pm
Saturday, May 4 2013 8:30pm

REVIEWS

"Kilmurry's staging of Frankenstein is magical and moving. It begins with the casting of Lee Jones, whose brilliance and bravery in the role of Frankenstein's Creature are evident from the opening sequence as electric current and "science" collide to bring to life inanimate flesh and bones. This "birth" is beautiful, challenging, emotionally charged and unforgettable. It is one of the loveliest and most touching answers to the question "what is humanity?" one could imagine." "The play and Lee Jones' performance reach sublime heights.....Frankenstein is a major achievement and a landmark in the Ensemble's history." Diana Simmonds, Stagenoise READ MORE

"I am lonely," cries the creature to its maker, Victor Frankenstein, and that torment is the lightning bolt animating this brilliant production. Occasionally, script, director, actors and design are as one, and theatre becomes powerfully confronting. This was such a night.

Against the odds, playwright Nick Dear has breathed new life into Mary Shelley's seminal masterpiece, to which he remains intrinsically true, despite having cut and churned the story's telling. He has focused particular blasts of insightful energy on the creature's predicament. We are even inclined to forgive this serial murderer his crimes – such is the sympathy we feel for his being despised, rejected, feared, beaten, hungry, lonely, unloved and nameless. More than ever he becomes a metaphor for all outcasts, pariahs and refugees.

Lee Jones turns in a towering performance as the creature. The play begins with him near-naked, tossed and contorted by high-voltage spasms as electricity jolts life into the dead flesh of which he is composed. Jones then brushes against genius as his creature discovers life. Fingers, hands, limbs and body all astound him as fresh miracles. The wider world of sun, rain, birds and food is encountered without verbal language, but with a richness of physical expression to grip as hard as any speech.

"What is love?" he asks De Lacey (Michael Ross), the kindly old man who, being blind, is not afraid to teach him to speak, spell, read, write and think. The creature also dreams, including of joyous sex in a touching dance sequence.

It is desire for a mate that drives him back to his maker, Frankenstein (Andrew Henry). While the creature has been learning to feel, Frankenstein's heart has turned to stone, and Henry catches the hectic collisions of pride, horror, anguish, guilt and hard-headed scientific curiosity. Yet the creature feels the same irrational love for him that humanity does for its own gods. Katie Fitchett brings both ethereal and sensual charm to Elizabeth, Frankenstein's betrothed.

Mark Kilmurry's direction is a singular achievement. His non-literal presentation fires our imaginations, and thereby makes us conductors in the credibility of the play's premise. His decaying gothic vision is beautifully served by Simone Romaniuk's design, Nicholas Higgins' lighting and, above all, sonically, Elena Kats-Chernin's score for solo cellist Heather Stratfold drips with pathos and dovetails with Daryl Wallis' eerie sound world.

The Ensemble Theatre feels recharged." John Shand, Sydney Morning Herald READ MORE

“Under Mark Kilmurry’s excellent direction we are privileged to see a magnificent, gripping production … a powerful confronting production. Lee Jones as the Creature is extraordinary and gives an astonishing, bravura performance. Katie Fitchett is delightful as Elizabeth, Frankenstein’s fiancée, a role that makes powerful comments about women’s education and the society of the period. In a dual role as the female ‘creature’ she is robotically enchanting, a trapped butterfly. Michael Ross as the blind De Lacey gives a heartwarming, profound performance, teaching the Creature the mysteries of language and philosophy, and the joys of music. Brian Meegan, Michael Rebetzke and Olivia Stambouliah in their multiple smaller roles give excellent performances.” Arts Hub

"This performance will reignite a love for Mary Shelley lost long ago. Nick Dears’ re-imagination explores abandonment through the eyes of an unnatural creature. Unbeknownst to its creator, the creature becomes educated but slowly realizes that knowledge cannot convince humans to accept it. Desolate and depleted, the creature vows to find its creator and convince him to help find contentment. Starring Lee Jones, Katie Fitchett and Andrew Henry, this hauntingly intimate adaptation is beautiful and prophetic in its delivery. Most Valuable Player unquestionably goes to Jones, whose dedication and hard work pays off immensely in his execution of The Creature. He is brilliantly focused, portraying each little mannerism and disfigured aspect of his character’s personality to create a figure who not only is uncomfortable to comprehend but also makes us sympathetic to its plight." Chelsea Deeley, Alternative Media Group READ MORE

English playwright Nick Dear has delved into the heart of Shelley’s novel to uncover the heart of Frankenstein’s monster, or The Creature. This is the story told almost entirely from The Creature’s perspective and what a grand, dark, gothic tale of morality it is. Mark Kilmurry has assembled a fine cast and melded them into a solid, cohesive and convincing unit. And that would have been enough to make it a worthwhile night out at the theatre.What lifts this Frankenstein on to a much higher plane is the extraordinary performance of Lee Jones as The Creature. He’s on stage for much of the 100 straight, intermissionless minutes, his tall, athletic, supple-to-the-point-of-plasticity body writhing, prowling and contorting as he discovers, threatens and pleads with the world he is born into as a grown man. John Rozentals, Oz Baby Boomers READ MORE

“Brilliant … astonishing … a humane, intelligent retelling of the original story”

THE GUARDIAN UK

“Taut, fiercely focused … extraordinarily haunting”

THE INDEPENDENT

“Unique and brave … enormously emotional and hugely compelling … virtuoso stuff”

LONDON THEATRE

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