Sixth Side Theatre company’s seasonal play of Frankenstein is the ideal way to start the spooky night of Halloween! Performed in the Dowrick Suite in Trevelyan College, the play directed by Charlie Eddison is a balance of eerie and moving, particularly regarding Frankenstein’s monster (played by Jamie Strand), who is not just a monstrous character. The play follows the classic tale of Victor Frankenstein (Scout Pemberton), who creates a human being from dead corpses. Frankenstein becomes horrified by his creation and the story follows the monster’s encounters with various people, from strangers to his creator.
The performances in Frankenstein are the standout element. Scout Pemberton playing Victor Frankenstein is an extremely strong performer. They fantastically develop their character throughout the performance. It is touching to see them showcase Frankenstein’s passion for creating a monster and transition to the horror and fear towards the monster. Their performance is powerful and it is clear they are a complete natural on stage. Jamie Strand playing The Monster is another strong performer. Strand captures the character of the monster extremely well. His physicality and voice control are both impressive and help to create a character that is believable. What is most impressive however is how Strand makes the audience feel both empathy and fear towards his character. The contrasting emotions that are felt, draw the audience into the play and increase the curiosity towards the character.
Alysia Orbell playing Elizabeth, Frankenstein’s fiancé is another brilliant performer. She creates tender and heartfelt moments on stage which amongst the spooky nature of the play work well in changing the tone of scenes. Tom Giddings as Walton gives another powerful performance. The confidence and true leadership qualities of this character shine through and Giddings effortlessly works the stage. He crucially and boldly delivers the opening monologue to set the tone for the entire play!
Another impressive element of the show is the ensemble work. The ensemble does an excellent and accurate job of capturing the mood within the play which translates feeling to the audience. Whether this be creating the environment of a scientific lab or the cold, harsh conditions of a ship sailing through artic conditions, their commitment and cohesion paint the picture perfectly and set the tone of the scene.
The semi-thrust stage has the challenge of portraying multiple locations. Set with a sofa, notice board and small table, many props are used to put across the current location. Most of the performers remain centre, however at times some performers are to the extreme stage left or right which means at times they are not lit. As they deliver lines you can miss their facial reactions and it does feel as if they are removed from the action on stage. However, the staging of the actors when they are centre stage and lit is superb. Director Charlie Eddison, assisted by Lauren Bailey, creates scenes that utilise intimate space. Performers cover every area of the lit space and are arranged in a way that creates levels and maintains a naturalistic flow to the action.
Another example of their great direction is during the play’s monologues. Multiple characters deliver powerful monologues that let the audience in on their inner emotions. Eddison and Bailey ensure all these monologues explore a range of tones, movements and feelings. Each flows seamlessly and as an audience member, you are taken on a journey within one section of writing. They also ensure key themes of the play such as horror and ambition are felt by the audience. The two themes are particularly evident in Frankenstein’s monologue before he creates the monster and the monster’s pursuit to persuade Frankenstein to create a female companion for him.
Frankenstein is the ultimate Halloween play and this cast and creative team do justice to its key themes to create a chilling piece that also draws empathy from the audience. With stellar performances from all involved, Frankenstein is an impressive piece of theatre that is a treat to watch.
Image credit: Sixth Side Theatre Company