Friday, March 21, 2014

Review: (Ottawa / Theatre) Frankenstein

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Right Choices, but...
by Jim Murchison 

First of all I have to apologize to The Algonquin theatre class for arriving late. I tried to take a short cut to building N and got myself lost. For that I am dreadfully embarrassed. I was accommodated even though they were sold out and I was very pleased to see that. I love it when a theatre is full.

Mary Shelley's story is a classic tale of science gone wrong, society's preoccupation with appearance over substance of character, fear, ambition and revenge. Director Zach Counsil spent a lot of time trying to find the right version and as fortune would have it, veteran actor Walter Learning had co authored with Alden Nowlan an exceptional version faithful to Mary Shelley’s vision. The play and the version were the right choice.

Set and lighting was again provided by David Magladry assisted by David Hanna. The set had the 19th century street lights that provided a warm or at times foreboding atmosphere. There were giant wheels and hanging wires and bulbs setting the mood of  dangerous science afoot. The lighting had its shadowy areas where evil could lurk and there was great use of candlelight which is so effectively creepy when it illuminates from under a persons face.  

I also liked the makeup and the costumes a great deal. Amanda Logan Zach Counsil and Vanessa Imeson all had a hand in it and it was fine.

Unfortunately I did not find that the acting ensemble captured the nuance and the rhythms of their characters for the most part. The most effective for me was the creature played by Evan Gilmore. He was the most human of all the performers which I think is as it should be. He was layered and textured so that you felt he was more of a victim than a beast. He effectively played a man born of an ungodly ambition and there was a certain haunting sadness in his plight and in the reaction that society had to him. Becky Lindsay also had a natural and very real quality in her portrayal of Louise.

Garret Brink as Victor VonFrankenstein looked perfect in his role but the essence of the internal conflict within himself escaped him. At times things seemed a tad mechanical to me. There were moments when changes in pace and pauses could have been used far more effectively with the music. It wasn’t all bad. It just could have been so much better..  

Running time: approximately two hours with one intermission. 

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