About two hundred years ago, an eighteen-year-old English author named Mary Shelley wrote what became known as the original modern day science fiction novel. The story of a mad genius scientist obsessed with creating life from lifelessness, the arrogance and hubris of his experiments comes back to haunt him when, after creating his “creature,” he abandons and rejects it to fend for itself, thus creating his creation’s desire for revenge. This story, originally titled “The Modern Prometheus”, is more commonly and famously referred to as “Frankenstein.” Having received multiple interpretations and adaptations over the last two centuries, the story has become an icon of storytelling and pop culture. Now, a new “re-imagining” of this story interpreted by Nick Dear is at the Dallas Theater Center’s Kalita Humphreys Theater through March 4th, bringing “Frankenstein” back to life once again.
The production opens as Victor Frankenstein (Alex Organ) has created his Creature (Kim Fischer) and turned him out into the streets. Wandering the countryside aimlessly, facing rejection from the local city folk as well as the villagers in the woods beyond, the Creature finds a kindly and wise old blind man named De Lacey (Blake Hackler) living in a small cottage. Striking up a first true friendship, he begins learning about who and what he is as well as the struggles with his sense of purpose in life. When De Lacey’s son Felix (Richard Johnson) and daughter in law Agatha (Tia Laulusa) return from tending the fields, he is attacked once again, shattering his psyche beyond repair, driving him back to the place where he was created. Confronting Victor one last time as he plans his vengeance puts Victor’s fiancée Elizabeth (Jolly Abraham) and father (Kieran Connolly) in the Creature’s path as they try to snap Victor out of the stupor he has been in since his creation was born.
This production is quite unique, as it is told from the perspective of the Creature rather than Victor, shifting the passage of time as it’s seen through the eyes of a newborn entity with no sense of self or experience of compassion; only scorn and hatred. Kim Fischer does an amazing job of reflecting all of this pain and anguish without coming across as completely and totally evil, as all he ever craves is love and companionship. Thwarted at every turn, Fischer’s portrayal expresses this brilliantly. Alex Organ as the titular Doctor brings his always dependable strengths to this production, portraying the brilliant but obsessed man trying to play God and Jolly Abraham’s turn as Elizabeth expresses a very close parallel to that of the Creature, seeking only the love and approval of Victor but ultimately, feeling rejected and unfulfilled, while Blake Hackler and Tia Laulusa also bring incredible energy to the stage in multiple roles.
The story of Frankenstein has always been a fascinating character study in the human condition and ultimately what drives us to be what we are. When viewed through the eyes of a being born not out of love but simple vain curiosity, it begets the question of who the real monster of this story truly is, and the answers are more terrifying than one can ever imagine.