Tag Archives: Mary Shelley



Richmond Theatre



Richmond Theatre

Reviewed – 18th November 2019



“This production does breathe new life into Mary Shelley’s story with its inventiveness, but it perilously runs the risk of killing it too”


What’s the name of Mary Shelley’s monster? ‘Frankenstein’ is the unanimous response. Wrong! Shelley never ascribed a name to the creature created by Victor Frankenstein, the scientist who meddles with nature. Although in Rona Munro’s stage adaptation the misnomer is given an extra twist as Munro places Shelley herself into the action. It is an interesting framing device that mirrors the story’s concerns: Shelley has created her own monster which, now set unleashed into the world, is beyond her control.

Eilidh Loan, as the young eighteen-year-old writer, is a feral creature herself with a lacerating energy, scratching words onto her pages as the tale unfolds around her. She is the writer, and the director, of her characters as she prompts and taunts, and is never kind to them. But there lies part of the problem – her grating Cockney detachment strips the drama of its sense of tragedy and sadness. You rather miss, too, the presence of Lord Byron and Percy Bysshe Shelley. It seems a shame to ignore the real-life story behind the conception of the dark tale, which is almost as famous as the novel itself. Maybe Munro’s intention was that we, the audience, were the ones cooped up with Mary in the chalet on Lake Geneva. Loan frequently spoke out to the auditorium as though she were being challenged to come up with her own terrifying tale. But lines like “Is it frightening enough?” or “It’s my nightmare” are too simplistic to realise the effect.

Although the stilted characterisation and dialogue dampen the atmosphere, it is more than compensated for in Patricia Benecke’s foreboding staging. Becky Minto’s icy set of balconies and bare trees like withered lungs suggest the dread and despair, punctuated by Simon Slater’s bolts of sound that feed the melodrama. At times, though, the cast are forced to try to outdo the setting with occasional overdramatic delivery. Ben Castle Gibb, as Victor Frankenstein, is the most successful at avoiding this with a manic performance that captures the extremes of obsession without drumming home the point. Michael Moreland’s Monster bizarrely speaks like Kathy Burke’s own monstrous creations; Kevin and Perry, which doesn’t help lift him out of the cartoon like portrayal Munro has written for him, and the other characters.

Sprinklings of feminist anachronisms and modern-day analogies to ethnic intolerance, fear and prejudice border on patronising and melt the glacial force of Shelley’s original. Trying to balance the entertainment value with a subliminal sermon is unnecessary and it dilutes the power. This production does breathe new life into Mary Shelley’s story with its inventiveness, but it perilously runs the risk of killing it too.


Reviewed by Jonathan Evans

Photography by Tommy Ga-Ken Wan


ATG Tickets


Richmond Theatre until 23rd November then UK tour continues


Previously reviewed at this venue:
Iolanthe | ★★★★ | May 2018
84 Charing Cross Road | ★★★★ | June 2018
Tom Gates | ★★★★ | March 2019


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Electrifying new production



7 – 18 March

‘If I cannot inspire love, I will cause fear!’

One of the greatest gothic tales of all time will come to life in the eerily atmospheric Wilton’s Music Hall in an extraordinary new production of Mary Shelley’s classic Frankenstein, from 7 – 18 March.

The original story was written when Shelley was just 18 years old, and tells the tale of Frankenstein, a young scientist who brings a gruesome body to life. Cast out into a hostile world, Frankenstein’s creature searches for his true identity and, on realising how he came to be, learns the pain of rejection and broken promises.

Vengeful, dangerous and in bloodthirsty pursuit of his maker, the creature threatens to destroy Frankenstein and the lives of everyone he loves. This brand new version of Shelley’s immortal tale is directed by Eleanor Rhode and reimagined by Tristan Bernays (writer and director of Teddy, winner of Best New Musical at the 2016 Off West End Awards and of Boudica at the Globe Theatre this coming autumn).

Tristan says:


‘‘I love monsters because they remind us what it is to be human- Frankenstein is a truly great monster story and I’m thrilled to be bringing this adaptation to the ethereal and atmospheric Wilton’s Music Hall.’’


A transfer from the award winning, internationally renowned Watermill Theatre where it enjoyed a successful short run in 2016, George Fletcher and Rowena Lennon perform this take on a powerful and dark masterpiece that explores the timeless relationship between parent and child, isolation, prejudice and revenge and speaks to our modern society.



George Fletcher – Frankenstein/The Creature

Rowena Lennon – Chorus


Creative team

Writer – Tristan Bernays

Director – Eleanor Rhode

Movement Director – Tom Jackson Greaves

Sound Designer – David Gregory

Lighting designer – Lawrence T. Doyle


Mary Shelley’s


7 – 18 March 7:30pm

plus selected 2:30pm, 6:30pm & 9pm shows  

£10 – £20




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