Frankenstein - A Modern Reimagining


Frankenstein - a Modern Re-imagining: Shelley Theatre, Bournemouth.18th May, 2018

It’s 200 years since Mary Shelley published her groundbreaking novel, Frankenstein, and invented the classic gothic horror story. The idea of the mad scientist meddling with nature to create life would capture the imaginations of generations. The arrogance, the cruelty and the disastrous consequences of such folly has provided writers, film-makers and stage directors with compelling material ever since.

So it is particularly impressive that this “modern re-imagining” by theatre group SISATA working with BAFTA winning writer John Foster and director Charmaine K. Parker finds a different angle from which to view the Frankenstein story.

We find a desperate scientist, a woman called Frankie  (Neelam Parmar), working with her assistants Eris (Frank Leon) and Xero (Seth Tonkin) in a dystopian world of the not-too-distant future. They create  a female being and call her Angel (Emily Rowan) Maybe, just maybe she can help combat the ills of a hostile and dying world.

This a world away from the bolt-through-theneck ‘monster’ of popular fiction. Predictably though perhaps there have been a few miscalculations along the way and Angel (Emily Rowan), highly intelligent but isolated, finds herself conflicted over her gender identity and challenged not only by the brutal state of the world into which she has been thrust but by her very existence. Eventually, angry and sad, she turns on her creators. It seems that Frankie’s good intensions have been hi-jacked by her own psycho-sexual needs. It’s a story about motherhood and loss in an era of plummeting birthrates and a drastic recalibration of sexual identity.

Incorporating  masks and dance, this is powerful material that is both well written and well acted.  Set against a simple but effectively dressed stage and with direction from Charmaine K. Parker that allows a multi-directional view of the action we see how the original Frankenstein story might play out in a future-world terminally damaged by violence, tyranny and ecological disaster. It’s a world of fear with nature in rapid retreat. A disastrous environment for the foundation of a new generation.

The cast are all excellent with  particularly string performances from Rowan as Angel and Parmar as Frankie. The 2018 tour kicked off with two nights at the Shelley Theatre in Bournemouth this weekend. Perfect! Where  better to perform a new version of Frankenstein than in a theatre  built by Mary Shelley’s son in the grand house he hoped would become her home.. Sadly Mary died before she could move to Shelley Manor. How wonderful though that her inspiration lives on in this most appropriate of venues.

*Frankenstein - a Modern Re-imagining  now tours to a variety of venues across the south of England. Full info at www.sisata.co.uk - Jeremy Miles

© Jeremy Miles 2018