Thomas W. Hodgkinson


Adapted by April De Angelis
Royal Exchange, Manchester 

Lightning strikes. Power surges through the electrodes. On the blood-spattered bed, somewhat reluctantly, perhaps, a classic horror story stirs. And the audience gasps and titters. This is the first mistake of Matthew Xia’s uneven production of Mary Shelley‘s fable, in which an arrogant scientist named Victor Frankenstein tries to make a perfect man and inadvertently creates a monster. Although April De Angelis’s script is faithful to the novel, it resorts to playing it for laughs. The stage is strewn with body parts. You half expect young Victor to take a bite. The second mistake is to cast slight, boyish actors (Shane Zaza and Colin Ryan) as Frankenstein and his friend Clerval, while making the monster resemble a malevolent grandfather. Shelley’s tale is a multivalent parable, not only of class warfare, artistic creation and scientific hubris, but of parenthood. Yet here it looks as if Victor is the offspring. It’s a shame, because Harry Attwell delivers a superb physical performance as the monster, nailing the halting gait and speech. Pathos shivers through the stalls as he describes glancing down at the mirrored surface of a pool and seeing, to his horror, himself. I suppose we’ve all felt like that at one time or another.