Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Frankenstein (Mortal Toys)

Photo/Sara Velas

Erik Ehn's Frankenstein (Mortal Toys) is the most faithful adaptation of Shelley's novel yet (remember Captain Walton?), despite the fact that it's pint-sized. It's described perfectly by the initiative that produced it -- HERE Arts Center's Dream Music Puppetry Program -- as Janie Geiser and Susan Simpson have brought about a play as visually beautiful yet elusive as a dream (and only occasionally as soporific), and Severin Behnen's mostly electric score is somnambulistastic. Chris Payne and Dana L. Wilson, the two real life actors who provide visible voice-overs from the "wings" are still enough that we can imagine them inhabiting those paper-thin shells, and they exist as just one more "double" of the characters on stage, much like those who theorize Frankenstein and the Monster to be parts of the same psyche. The overlap of scenic layers within the boxed-in stage gives for an illusion of depth, as do the play's poetic narrative and various devices: it gives the audience a sensation of freefall in which time slows, and like Alice down the rabbit hole, we can be lost amidst our thoughts.

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