“I hope this play terrifies you. That’s it’s job.” Says writer Rona Munro about her modern and feminist adaptation of this classic horror story.
I’m not sure that I felt terrified at any point, and in fact, I was surprised at how many moments of laughter there were throughout the night. This play delivers something very different from our expectations, and I liked it for that.
Having never read the novel, I was surprised to see Frankenstein’s monster presented as something other than the green monster with bolts in his neck. In this adaptation he is very much human, which serves the novel’s message that society is what creates a monster, very well.
Throughout the play, a despairing Frankenstein tells the wild and raging ‘monster’ that he must kill him. “This rage is not from warmth but from desolation” – a poignant response from Frankenstein’s awakened corpse as he begs his creator to accept him, to own him – to own what he did.
Putting Shelley herself in the midst of the story is inspired. Shelley interjects welcome and sarcastic criticism of her ‘hero’ as he continues to push his boundaries and those of science in his attempt to conquer death. He has forsaken his health, his family and friends and even his own living in his pursuit. Yet, when his loving Elizabeth says she loves him still, and wants to marry him, he accepts, though he recognises that he does not deserve her – but, as Shelley bitterly comments, ‘You will take her anyway, won’t you? You hero of men’. Her satire asks us to continually question Frankenstein’s motives, but also her own as the young creator of this horror story. This mirrored anguish between Shelley’s creation of Frankenstein – and Frankenstein’s quest in reversing death – is an inspired take, and one which heralds Shelley as a progressive feminist, well before her time. Her own conscious comes blasting into question right at the last breath as she whispers ‘it is enough now’; before symbolically hurling Frankenstein towards the audience whilst shouting ‘I created you! And you will go on!”
Frankenstein runs until Saturday 26th October 2019 at Kings Theatre, Edinburgh