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REVIEW: Young cast brings Mary Shelley's Frankenstein to life

REVIEW: Young cast brings Mary Shelley's Frankenstein to life

Thursday 02 March 2023

REVIEW: Young cast brings Mary Shelley's Frankenstein to life

Thursday 02 March 2023

Mary Shelley's classic story of monstrous creation has been reanimated once again at the Jersey Arts Centre by a talented group of young actors.

One of the greatest works of English literature, a trailblazing piece of horror, the first work of science fiction; studied by academics and schoolchildren across the world, and one of the most adapted works of fiction of all time... putting on a production of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein is certainly a daunting task.

However, the young cast from the Arts Centre's Youtheatre group do an admirable job of bringing this haunting and endlessly fascinating tale to life (if you'll pardon the pun). 

Youtheatre's production of Frankenstein sticks closely to the plot of Mary Shelley's original novel, and so fans of the Boris Karloff vein of Frankenstein fiction might be a bit lost when the action starts in the midst of an Artic Expedition to find the North Pole. Victor Frankenstein (Magnus Surcouf) is found drifting on the ice by Artic Explorer Walton (Kate Meadows) and his crew. 

The action then takes us back in time, detailing Victor's idyllic childhood and caring family, which is all thoroughly ruined by his frenzied desire for knowledge culminating in the creation of the 'Monster' (Tess Barnes) from corpses and other grisly bits plundered from graveyards. 

We see the Monster's desperate struggle to deal with its own horrid existence, and its desperation for revenge against its creator which sees Frankenstein's fiancé and cousin, Elizabeth (Olivia Woodward) brutally murdered on their wedding night.

The play — adapted by Scottish writer Rona Munro  also features Mary Shelley (Martha Williams) on stage as a central character. She is perched at her writing desk, guiding the audience through her story, and struggling to keep a lid on the horror of her fictional creation. 

The cast does a really impressive job of bringing Mary Shelley's characters to life. Magnus Surcouf does a compelling job of depicting Frankenstein's fall from lofty arrogance to his eventual state of angst-ridden regret. Olivia Woodward deftly portrays the sorrow of Elizabeth as she sees her love torn apart by his experiences, and Tess Barnes' Monster is menacing and pitiful in equal measure.

Martha Williams is a particular highlight as Mary Shelley. In the more serious moments, you see her grapple with the weight of creation whilst also offering some light relief for the audience amidst the horror. At one stage, she muses casually: "Hmmm... I haven't killed anyone in a while."

The show is only £10 a ticket, £8 for students, and an awful lot is packed in to the 75 minute runtime. Youtheatre has faithfully adapted a particularly challenging story.

If you're a fan of Frankenstein, it's absolutely worth a watch. If you've never read or seen it, and are curious as to why this tatty 200 year old story is still around, you will understand when you see the show.

Mary Shelley's Frankenstein is on at the Jersey Arts Centre until the 3 March. The show starts at 19:30 each evening and tickets can be bought HERE.  

Pictured Top: Frankenstein at the Jersey Arts Centre (Wayne Stuart).

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