• Chris Bennion

There are two stars in Book-It's adaptation of Frankenstein; Or, the Modern Prometheus, a 19th-century gothic novel written by a well-connected and precocious teenager, Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley. One is a thing and the other is a human being. Let me begin with the thing. It is white, about 10 feet tall, covers half the stage, and dominates the first half of this production, which concerns the story of how a young scientist named Victor Frankenstein (played by Connor Toms) decided to master chemistry, the new science of his day, and challenge the deepest laws of biology (that only life creates life, and life must always end in death) by creating a new life form from the electrocuted parts of human corpses. The second part of the play concerns the terrible consequences of the scientist's hubris.

The function of this thing, a curtain, is to play with shadows and light, and to move time and space by opening onto other locations: From a ship in the arctic, it opens into Frankenstein's childhood home, and takes us to a forest, a snowy mountain in the Alps, and the scientist's laboratory. (Andrea Bryn Bush designed the set, and Andre D. Smith designed the lighting.) The curtain almost floats above the floor, and in some scenes, it is spookily caressed or pulled back in panic by the mad scientist. The ghostliness of the white curtain, and the projections of human and inhuman shadows across it, enhances the production's haunted and gothic mood. The reason this curtain is the star of the first and longest part of Frankenstein is because, though there's nothing wrong with the performances or the adaptation—which, if my memory serves me, appears to be faithful to the original—neither is there anything exceptional about them. All that stands out in this section is the marvelous curtain: its formidable folds, its evil airiness, the lunacy of its whiteness.

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