Don’t Look Away’s production of Frankenstein doesn’t break the fourth wall, but its seams are certainly showing. Clever without being smug, it’s a self aware text; a theatrical work that knows it’s a theatrical work, allowing the script and the cast and crew an exciting amount of room to play.
The familiar tale of Dr Victor Frankenstein (Michael McStay) giving life to his creation (Chantelle Jamieson) is still there on the bones, but the story has been distorted, tinkered, and mucked around with to cast a fresh light on each scene as they unfold.
Michael McStay seemed to arrive at his portrayal of Victor by way of The Cure’s Robert Smith, with an extra side-order of angst. This Doctor takes no pride in his achievement, shunning the creature just as she realises she wants his companionship. Michael did lovely work throughout – whether a boisterous serenade to his fiancée, Elizabeth, or the tragic histrionics during the final confrontation in the Arctic.
Chantelle Jamieson’s Creature was more measured. The technical elements – how her vocabulary and manner of talking improved with each scene – were fine enough, but the smaller touches made the role memorable. In opposition to Victor’s descent, the Creature’s journey has an upwards trajectory towards becoming more human. Chantelle was exceptional in her commitment to this arc, with every wince, plea, and moment of yearning.
Martin Quinn also provided assistance where required, succeeding in keeping each scene flowing strong into the next, mostly *ahem* without being seen. While the writing did feel like it meandered in places, for the most part Lally Katz’s script was wonderful, particularly in the last minutes. The devices and theatrical hijinks have been exhausted and we are left with two bodies as Antony and the Johnsons sing Frankenstein. Cut to black. Beautiful.
Theatre Works, 14 Acland Street, St Kilda
Performance: Friday 21 July 2017 – 7.30pm
Season continues to 29 July 2017
Information and Bookings: www.theatreworks.org.au
Image: Chantelle Jamieson as the Creation and Michael McStay as Victor in Frankenstein – photo by Sarah Walker
Review: David Collins