STAGE REVIEW: Frankenstein: A Gothic Creation @ Newcastle Castle | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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New play Frankenstein: A Gothic Creation is currently out on tour, taking in a range of venues as it marks 200 years since the first publishing of the Mary Shelley novel. Timeworks Theatre brought the debut of this mesmerising new work to Newcastle Castle over two sell-out nights and a supremely talented cast brought to life a beautifully written script in a perfectly atmospheric setting.

Timeworks Theatre themselves deserve much of the credit for pulling together a cast who played off each other wonderfully, with a real tension to the drama that unfolded playing characters (and an author) with subtlety that are two centuries old. John Seymour’s adapted script is certainly also vying for being the star of the show, as a clever meta approach of having Mary Shelley feature as a character and driving the story forward was an inventive approach and really marks him out as a theatrical writer I am truly excited to see more by.

Sarah Seymour’s stage direction was something that had me transfixed too, with minimal space and props, every movement, every interaction in the staging mattered greatly. There was a phenomenal use of every single item of the production, with the cast breathing life into rogue bits of cloth and the historic castle walls which housed this special play. This production draws on the life of Mary Shelley and the original novel being written to pose some thought-provoking questions, and retells the horrific story of the creation of a hideous creature.

On to the cast themselves, and all three members of this minimal cast were mind-blowingly good. Lucy Marie Curry has a truly tough task in playing Mary Shelley and a number of side characters too, but still acted with a great deal of tenderness that allowed the other two members of the cast to really ramp up the drama and create edge of the seat tension. As The Creature was unveiled, there was a palpable feeling of excitement in the room, and the reveal was well worth it. The Creature, played by Chris Iddon could easily have stolen scenes as the character was imbued with pathos and feeling; the emotive performance was full of strength and angst which came from a deep place as The Creature sought revenge on Victor Frankenstein.

The central pairing of Lucy Marie Curry’s Shelley and Arthur Thorpe’s Victor Frankenstein shared a lot of stage time, with Curry flitting out of other roles within the story too; it was perfect stage direction and strong writing that meant it was easy to follow the narrative and Curry knew how to fire up each character through vulnerability where needed and a passionate fire at points too. She played the sharp mind of a manipulative creative when in the role of Shelley, who was just a young woman at the time of the novel and a pitch-perfect portrayal reflects this, with the dichotomy of being a talented young woman in an immensely patriarchal society proving very relevant.

Arthur Thorpe’s Victor was an utterly tortured character, a creation himself, a character in a story who creates a monster, who on occasion shows he is slowly turning into one himself, though fighting against that at every turn. Thorpe was superb in this production, really throwing himself into the physicality required and commanding the stage by  delivering thoughtful dialogue through a real range of emotions. In such a strong trio of actors, each interpreted their respective roles perfectly, with Iddon incredible in his ability to show himself to be monstrous and heartbroken in equal measure; and for Curry, it was an enthralling performance from a talented actress who understands perfectly how to breathe torture and fire into every role she plays.

Frankenstein: A Gothic Creation really is a special production, with a magnetic use of stage and space creating questions on the origins of the original text. It all sees Timeworks Theatre setting themselves up as a truly exceptional burgeoning theatre company. Within the confines of the castle that gave Newcastle its name, this production was breathtaking; where Timeworks Theatre and a talented cast go from here (well, it’s The Exchange next for this production, but I meant more generally) is a very exciting prospect to find the answers too.

Timeworks Theatre bring Frankenstein: A Gothic Creation to various North East venues throughout October.

  • Wednesday 24th October, The Exchange, North Shields
  • Friday 26th October, Langley Castle, Northumberland
  • Sunday 28th October, Crook Hall, Durham
  • Monday 29th October, Crook Hall, Durham
  • Wednesday 31st October, Arts Centre Washington

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