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Frankenstein at Middleton Arena Manchester

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by Alison Brinkworth (subscribe)
Freelance journalist in Birmingham with a passion for the dynamic theatre, art, food and fashion scene in Britain's 'Second City'.
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Mary Shelley centre-stage for exciting new version
Frankenstein has been covered in thousands of ways - from Hammer Horror to comedy and cartoons. This new version tries a different angle as a way to also honour the tale's female writer Mary Shelley.

frankenstein, tour, perth theatre, middleton arena, manchester
A bold new version of Frankenstein


This latest stage version of Frankenstein is touring and at Middleton Arena Manchester
from February 24 to 29.

It's a new production of the Mary Shelley classic tale that has been adapted to stage in a fascinating way by Rona Munro, who has given the writer a strong presence on stage. In fact, Shelley features in this production even more so than the Monster.

I caught the play early on this latest tour at Malvern Theatres. The story - and how Shelley is writing it - unravels though the writer's eyes and voice, including her thoughts and writing process. She appears a little bit like a mad scientist, piecing everything together and scribbling madly.

Shelley was just 18 when she published her debut novel of this gothic horror story that was completely fresh and different for its time and has become one of the most famous and iconic pieces of literature.

Eilidh Loan, playing Shelley, opens and closes the show in enigmatic fashion. She begins as a struggling writer nurturing an idea for a bet and blossoms into a woman who understands her own worth and is ready to unleash her nightmarish creation on the world.

frankenstein, tour, perth theatre, middleton arena, manchester
A modern set that uses two levels


Wearing a long black leather jacket, she is the essence of Victoriana and Steampunk fashion that runs through all the costumes in this two hour show.

Loan gives the writer a quirky edge of confidence and cynicism, but the character verges on the point of cocky that can be overpowering at times.

While Act One is through the eyes of Victor Frankenstein, the second act gives the point of view from the Creature - good casting of Ben Castle Gibb and Michael Moreland in the respective roles.

Trying to veer away from the Hammer Horror bolt in the neck image of the monster, the creature is a more realistic human form of skin and scars. Much more true to the book, yet Moreland manages to portray a bulk of menace when it needs to be.

There's an effective yet minimalistic set featuring balconies and trees that the characters climb to keep momentum on stage moving. The atmosphere meanwhile is created by menacing sound effects created by composer Simon Slater.

frankenstein, tour, perth theatre, middleton arena, manchester
A contemplative moment for both the Monster and Mary Shelley


The main drawback is the excessive use of Shelley's character as a constant commentator, which stalls the flow of the story at many points.

The sections I enjoyed the most were when the characters were left to get on with the story without Shelley's insights that sometimes sounded like study notes.

Holding back a little and giving the plot a chance to continue without her may have given more room for the other characters, plot and emotion to develop further.

This production from Perth Theatre at Horsecross Arts, Selladoor Productions along with Coventry Theatre Belgrade and Matthew Townshend Productions has a lot to offer and is innovative - but with a few tweaks, it could be great.

It's definitely a show worth catching to see this classic gothic horror from a new perspective.
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Why? See exciting new version of Frankenstein
When: February 24 - 29, 2020
Phone: 0300 303 8633
Where: Middleton Arena, LCpl Joel Halliwell VC Way, Middleton,Greater Manchester, M24 1AG
Cost: From 14.50
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