Originally published in 1818 by, then anonymous, Mary Shelley, Frankenstein is easily one of the most iconic members of the western canon. In equal parts, romance, gothic and science fiction, Frankenstein has permeated western culture; both with its philosophy and with its iconic monster.
This production sees Scott McArdle as text adapter, director and lead actor. Any one of these undertakings would be considered enough, especially right off the back of a season of another show in the Subiaco Arts Centre. McArdle is easily one of the most energetic figures in Perth theatre at present.
McArdle’s adaptation was carried by a strong, and quite large cast. A director taking on a stage role is often a risky business, to truly succeed at both, a strong co-operative cast is absolutely essential. Each character projected a fully realised personality. The stark humanity of each role channelled the philosophy of the gothic tradition to powerful effect. It would be too cumbersome to pay credit to each individual cast member in this short review, however, special kudos must be made for Rhianna Hall in the role of Captain Walton; her constant presence as the in-between observer was utterly unwavering. The relief of the comic landlord, played by Stephen Platt was most welcome, and superbly performed.
The design quality of this show is astonishingly high for an amateur production. The unsettled discomfort that the gothic genre relies upon is effectively realised by the collaboration of Katie Southwell and Drew Krapljanov as sound-scape artist and composer. The addition of McArdle’s lighting design completes the discomforting effects of the production, some might say that he has taken a page out of the Theatre of Cruelty manual.
When considering the direction of this play, the saying “if you do something right, people won’t be sure that you have done anything at all” comes to mind. Every aspect of this play seemed completely natural and fluid, even the transition between different points in time was achieved flawlessly. At no point was the audience made to feel in the dark, or unsure about how to feel about something on stage. McArdle’s artistic vision evidently manifested itself very early in the script work.
Which brings me to my final point. With the first half lasting approximately one and a half hours, and the second half lasting an additional hour, this was a relatively long play. Not only did I feel as though it were long, but long winded… the energy of the narrative simply did not justify such a lengthy run time. Further revision and cuts would make McArdle’s script far more potent as a performance text.
Second Chance Theatre present
based on the novel by Mary Shelley | adapted by Scott McArdle
Directed by Scott McArdle
Venue: Nexus Theatre, Murdoch University WA
Dates: 21 – 23 July 2016