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Two Reviews

by  Tigger23

Posted: Thursday, October 26, 2006
Word Count: 693

Frankenstein – RDC Productions

Mary Shelley’s tale of responsibilities and the consequences in man tampering with nature were bought to vivid life when RDC productions presented the second play in their Rep Season, Frankenstein.

As well as the story of Dr Frankesntein’s creation, this production, adapted for the stage by Alice Bartlet also took some of the iconography surrounding the writing of the book and added it to this production. The story is narrated by Mary Shelley, but also has passing character references to some of the most important writers of the 19th century, Lord Byron and Percy Shelley.

Mary Shelley wrote Frankenstein as an 18 year old, in a direct writing challenge from Byron. Byron and Percy Shelley’s stories may have been powerful, but they have not caught the popular imagination in the same way that Mary’s story of a monster, created and then abandoned by a doctor seeking to make his name in Science has.

The monster, played by Tom Roberts was by turns brutal, tragic, human, loving, and needed to be loved. The tragedy of the story is that Victor Frankenstein pays the ultimate price in wanting to change science. The Monster murders his little brother, and his father dies as a direct result of the grief, while in the final scenes, the Monster also murders Elizabeth, played by Sarah Kirkland (who also takes the roles of Mary Shelley, and Agatha, a blind woman, and the first person to show the monster any understanding and empathy).

The part of the tragic doctor was played by Rob Glynn Jones, who was enthused with the theories of his ideas, but repulsed by the realities of them.

Well choreographed fight scenes, as well as a tubular bells like score, strobe lighting, and sound effects helped to set the atmosphere intrinsic to the sense of forboding within the book.

The book is condensed into a short action packed 70 minutes, that tells a story that is both terrifying, and heart-breaking, and goes to show how little man still has to learn about his place within the grand scheme of things.

Theatre Review – April in Paris

The opening night of Lichfield Garrick’s new rep season was the John Godber comedy, April in Paris.

The play, a two hander, followed typical Brits Al and Bet on their first trip to Paris, which Bet wins, courtesy of a competition in Bella magazine. It is a break from their normal everyday lives, where Al is redundant, and spends his time in the shed, painting pictures that nobody buys, and Bet works in a shoe shop and enters competitions to win prizes to brighten their lives.

The play focuses on their arguments, and the ennui that has entered their lives and their relationship. The play is seen as being a comedy, but like many of Godber’s scripts, the action focuses on real life, real relationships, and the bittersweet nature of life.

Al and Bet, played by RDC actors Tom Roberts and Sarah Kirkland are a Northern couple, and the play has been adapted to change some references to more topical points. The contrasts of life in a northern town, and the exotic nature of Paris life and culture were well explored in the wide eyed exuberance of both protagonists. As well as the time in Paris, the play also focuses on their boat trip, where Bet wants to dance, and Al feels awkward at not being able to enjoy the trip as much as his wife does.

The couple are at a crossroads in their relationship, with neither seeming to understand or support the other in the way that each other needs. The trip helps them to heal some of the rift within their relationship that recent events have helped to develop.

In the final scene, Al shows his latest painting to Bet. It is of Paris, and is of a quality that somebody wants to buy. When he also comes up with a potential prize winning entry for a holiday in Mexico, it is a suitable ending to a play that is at turns tragic, upbeat, uplifting, but at all times warm, real and most important human.