Adapted by Nick Dear from the novel by Mary Shelley. Ensemble Theatre Production. Sydney Opera House March 27 – April 13, 2013 and Ensemble Theatre, April 17 – May 4, then touring nationally.

Regular Stage Whispers reviewer David Spicer took to the Red Carpet with his daughter Rebecca, currently studying the novel Frankenstein for her HSC, for opening night of Frankenstein at the Sydney Opera House. She shares her perspective, having dissected Mary Shelley’s original in HSC English classes.

The novel Frankenstein by Mary Shelley is one of the comparative texts for advanced English students doing the HSC this year. After analyzing the novel to a point where you wonder, “did the author actually think of all these underlying messages and meanings or are we just completely over thinking it,” Nick Dear’s fresh perspective was extremely welcome. He travels in the same direction as the renowned novel, but shows it from a different perspective. The audience sees the true struggle the monster was subjected to and makes us question humanity as a whole.

The stand out actor was Lee Jones, who is a very convincing monster.Using movements, speech that starts out as grunts and develops into advanced English, and facial expressions which make us fear him and feel empathy towards his plight.

The director Mark Kilmurry creates an opening birth scene where no words are needed. Although it is confronting to the audience, it helps us understand the struggles and neglect of this monster through movement, shadow, light and absurdist techniques.

A few adaptations made to the story line. In the novel women are depicted with no voice, often absent and their deaths are not shown to the audience. In the play you see the missing scenes in the novel. These unheard stories worked well for a modern audience.

Throughout the course of the play there is a live cellist on stage, adding ominous layers of sound. It added to the atmosphere of a special performance all round.

It is hard to find a film or play that gives the original book justice. Many people made Frankenstein adaptions that have gone a butchered the story line and meaning. I can happily say I feel Dear’s adaptation serves the book justice whilst adding new and interesting themes.

Rebecca Spicer

Lee Jones as The Creature in Frankenstein. Photographer: Heidrun Lohr.

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