Friday, October 30, 2009

Play of the Week: Playing With Fire

In honor of Halloween we are bringing you an excellent adaptation of Mary Shelley's classic horror novel, Frankenstein. Written by Barbara Field, Playing With Fire uses only six actors playing four characters (Frankenstein and the monster are both represented as part of the narrative and narrators themselves) to tell the monstrous tale. While this adaptation does take a lot of liberties with the original novel, they are changes that help both transpose the story to the stage while making it more interesting and relevant to a modern audience.

The story unfolds as a dialogue between Victor Frankenstein and the monster on Frankenstein's deathbed, as it is framed in the novel, but not literally depicted. From there Field goes on to set the two characters into sharp relief so the audience cannot but help asking themselves who really is the "monster." And from there we learn that the two characters essentially are the same and it is only their actions that are interchangeable.

This is an excellent adaptation that brings the depth back to the story that the Hollywood adaptations have sucked out over the years. The monster is much more human than the stiff-legged grunter portrayed by Boris Karloff and the internal conflict of Frankenstein is both human and terrifying. The psychological horror element of Shelley's original tale also comes through. If you are looking for a Halloween drama, this is one to sink your teeth into.

Happy Birthday: Richard Sheridan (1751-1816) & Zoe Akins (1886-1958)

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