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Home arrow Archive: Earlier Fringes arrow Archive: Edinburgh 2011 arrow Livewire Theatre's Frankenstein
Livewire Theatre's Frankenstein
Published on Monday, 15 August 2011

1 stars

theSpaces @ Surgeons Hall (venue website)
6-20 Aug, 8:10pm-8:55pm
Reviewed by Ellen Macpherson

 Recommended for age 12+ only.

Absurd. That’s probably the most dignified way I can describe Livewire’s version of Frankenstein. It’s one of my favourite classic novels, and I’d only heard good things about Livewire, so (perhaps unfairly) I had high expectations for the show; but what I experienced was a jumble of bad plot, production and character decisions, in a play that made barely any sense.

Perhaps the show’s one strong point is its concept. This is Frankenstein’s tale set in a post-human world, where Mary Frankenstein seeks the perfect creation – precisely like a human but without emotion. Instead, by giving the Creature a heart, she unknowingly provides her creation with a sense of humanity and a knowledge of love. The rest follows much like the original work, apart from the fact that both the creator and creation are female; it’s not the world’s most original take on Frankenstein (see Blade Runner), but it would have worked well had the production been executed in a completely different way.

I understand the restrictions of low budget, but there are brilliant shows I’ve seen that have cost less than this one, and been much more successful. The whole production was just clumsy. The use of paper props could have been skipped over, and much of the work that was done on the floor of the stage was pointless, since no one past the second row could see anything. It’s not an uncommon problem at Fringe venues, but it’s still predictable, and the simple use of a platform wouldn’t have gone astray. The company did use ladders for some scenes and this worked a lot better.

A lot of the acting decisions seemed to cross the line from drama into absurdity. I’m not saying that the actors weren’t talented, because that couldn’t have been further from the truth. Mary Frankenstein, in particular, had her moments of brilliance, but they were eclipsed by the decision to have her go from whispering to yelling in a matter of a second. I found it a fairly two-dimensional take on the ‘mad scientist’ character, and one of the most regrettable character decisions of the show; when she was talking (and not yelling like her inner keyboard was stuck on caps lock), Frankenstein was captivating.

As an audience member, I could appreciate how hard the cast tried to put on a great production. But maybe that was the flaw with the entire show – that it just tried too hard. For all of its intellectualism, it became convoluted, and in its attempt to be different and alternative, it just became ridiculous. And it was a shame, too, that the Creature wasn’t more prevalent, because the Creature’s journey is the most fascinating and tragic part of the original novel; there is very little focus on it in the production and because of that omission, the play loses a dimension of tragedy.

I’m sorry I couldn’t say nicer things about the show. I think the concept was solid enough to potentially make a fantastic theatre production, but as it was, the execution let everyone down. So much so, that I witnessed people leaving in the middle of the show; there were people next to me who didn’t clap, and the audience comments on the way out were far from complimentary. If you’ve got an extra fiver, I’d respectfully advise you to go and get a pint instead.

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