Friday, November 4, 2016

Theatre: Frankenstein: Some Assembly Required (★★★)

Jessica Moyle
Feet First Collective
Directed by Teresa Izzard
Designed by Olivia Faraone and Olivia Tartaglia
Sound design George Ashcroft
Lighting design Dana Ioppolo
Performed by Zoe Hollyoak, Andrew David Sutherland, Haydon Wilson, Declan Brown, Bubble Maynard and Jessica Moyle
Moores Building Fremantle
Until November 5

The story of the scientist Victor Frankenstein and his Creature have been so imbedded in, and distorted by, popular culture that it’s hard to recall where it all began, in Mary Shelley gothic novel published almost two centuries ago.
There are no Herman Munsters or Frank N. Furters in the Feet First Collective’s take on the story, a genuine and often successful attempt to capture the spirit, if not the detail, of Shelley’s story.
There’s much to admire and enjoy in the approach the creator/director Teresa Izzard took to its telling. Its fragmented, immersive presentation, with the audience moving between the brooding spaces of the Moores Building while snippets of the story whirl around it, is ambitious and striking. Some of its tableaux, particularly the awakening of the Creature and the creation of a female companion for it, deliver an almost physical shock.
By and large the cast respond well to the challenges of the text and approach; Victor (Andrew David Sutherland) and the Creature (Haydon Wilson) perform a horrifying pas de deux as they descend to their fates, and the attendants/ female creatures Mary (Bubble Maynard) and the ill-fated Justine (Jessica Moyle) are delicate and frenzied in turn.
Zoe Hollyoak is less convincing as Frankenstein’s bride Elizabeth. Hollyoak is a unpredictable, high-energy actor, but this too-fragmented role didn’t play to her strengths. The empathy you should feel for the innocent Elizabeth doomed by her husband’s insane ambition is never given a chance to emerge.
Which is indicative of the show’s problem. Short scenes in different rooms means lots of clambering around and jostling for position, often for scraps of dialogue and action that hardly seemed worth the effort.
I know it was challenging, and imagine it was satisfying, to deliver the production in this way (and let me put on record that I have no problem at all with promenade theatre), but the audience is the purpose of theatre, not a mere witness to its progress.
A little less shuffling and a bit more card play would have made this undoubtedly impressive production much more satisfying.      

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