Falcon’s Production is Not Your Father’s “Frankenstein”

Review by Laurel Humes of Frankenstein: Falcon Theatre

The opening moments of Falcon Theatre’s Frankenstein are a gift to the audience by actor Olaf Eide and lighting designer Jared Doren.

Eide’s Creature, newly created by Dr. Victor Frankenstein, is trying to stand and walk, lit as in a pantomime. We can relate – we’ve seen fawns and baby giraffes making the same moves soon after birth. Eide’s athletic agility makes the Creature’s attempts to move as a human fascinating, almost like a dance.

What is missing – no mother or father to help the fledgling. And that is the tragedy of Frankenstein, by Nick Dear, adapted for the stage from the 1818 Mary Shelley novel.

The themes in this Frankenstein are more frightening than any monster.

The stage play is told from the Creature’s point of view, rather than the creator’s. Dr. Frankenstein, appalled by his creation, abandons him to the streets of a German city. The Creature’s appearance in Falcon’s production – primarily scars running through his face and torso – frightens everyone he encounters.

Until the Creature meets a blind man (Donald Volpenhein), who shelters him and teaches him to speak, read and write.

But there is no long-term safety there and, in the first of a continuing series of revenge events, the Creature destroys the blind man and his family.

Where is the blame? Who taught the Creature wrath and revenge? What responsibility does any creator have?

“I created you because I could,” says Dr. Frankenstein (Luke Ashley Carter), who takes no responsibility for nurturing his creation.

“What have I brought into this world?” asks the father of Dr. Frankenstein (Kelly Hale), who does not understand the son who is so cold and heartless to those who love him.

Falcon’s production of Frankenstein is a play of ideas, rather than horror. The show should be welcomed by theatergoers (like me) who have not read the novel or play script and only know the now-campy caricature of the Boris Karloff monster and Halloween masks.

Eide is outstanding as the Creature. He has created a distinctive voice, way of moving and mannerisms that make the character fascinating to watch. We see the Creature evolve, learn to read and think. We suffer with him when he tells his creator “You make sport with my life.”

Carter’s Dr. Frankenstein is driven by ego and science. It is difficult to believe that he has a fiancé, much less the beautiful and sympathetic Elizabeth (Victoria Hawley), who loves him despite getting nothing in return.

The presence of Elizabeth, though, leads the Creature to demand that Dr. Frankenstein create for him a bride. The Creature has surpassed his creator, because he can feel love.

Frankenstein moves through a lot of locales, from city streets to forests to the Arctic Circle. Ingeniously, director Paul Morris and projection designer Kevin Kunz have created back-wall screen images to firmly place the characters in their surroundings.

Frankenstein continues at Falcon Theatre, 636 Monmouth St., Newport, through Oct. 14. Go to www.falcontheatre.net for ticket information.

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