As the leaves turn more fiery red, the daylight more bleak and opaque, and the darkest day of the year draws near – I feel in my bones it is time to pull out the classics of the Gothic and Romantic novels and revel in the pure wildness of nature and raw emotion. To mix up my tenth rereading of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein: or, The Modern Prometheus, this year I went with great excitement to Rona Munro's adaptation - 'Frankenstein'. The play starts in the traditional way – icebergs, strong manly characters with decision-making skills, a scarcely dressed guy running impressively over the ice, and Mary Shelley crashing into the scene exclaiming it's all not going to work. One moment we've transported ourselves to the world of the imagined play, the next Eilidh Loan (Mary Shelley) demands our attention back to her struggling to write down the scene which will start it all. Increasingly impatient, frantic, and snappy Eilidh perfectly delivers the comments we've all been secretly muttering under our breaths while reading the novel. These little insertions transform the formal language of polished up script into a dialogue between Shelley as an author and the family of characters she creates.
The interplay between Ben Castle-Gibb (Frankenstein), Michael Moreland (The Monster) and Eilidh Loan (Mary Shelley) is so well done it is at times hard to tell who is the puppet, the puppeteer, or even a projection of the author herself. All the main themes of the Romantics and the Gothic novel are touched upon, even if it is to critique that Frankenstein has to be “such a great hero!”. Special attention has to be given to Natali McCleary (Elizabeth/Safie) who manages to turn a dreary regular portrayal of the passive female into a strong woman who stands out from the pages and shows how strong the power of love can make one. The lighting and décor (Grant Anderson – Lighting Design; Becky Minto – Set and Costume Designer) allows for the characters, and especially Mary Shelley, to walk freely between imagined locations – and even between imagination and the 'real' world. Though Rona Munro has asserted in an interview with Dave Pollock that “you terrify people with ideas, not with effect” it surely is the stunning effects that gives us just that tiny impulse of something supra human in the air.
Though during Act I I wasn't entirely sure how Act II would develop, nearing the end I started to realise that because of Rona Munro's retelling, the book itself started to make even more sense now. All the events written down by Shelley are slowly taking it's toll and with equal pride and disgust she declares that her work here is done now. Closing her notebook and with gleaming eyes – she appears to throw the Monster at the audience and orders it to -