Frankenstein lived up to the pressure of a main show slotSimon Lock

Finally, the ADC has got it right. Frankenstein blew us away with its bildungsroman-esque depiction of the monster abandoned by its creator and left to fend for itself in the cold, cruel world. Set in the 1990s, this production was confident and powerful, with a strong cast and thought-provoking subject matter.

The play opens with the monster’s ‘birth’ in a bloodied bath, and the first half pieces together the monster’s brutal impression of man, which he brings to life in the second half. The stage was dominated by Toby Marlow, who played the monster. Wordlessly writhing and shuddering on the stage, he captivated the audience, giving us a complex character who was simultaneously innocent and cynical, exuberant and pained, hopeful and angry, resolute and uncertain. He breathed and embodied the monster to the extent that when Marlow strolled out to receive his applause, it came as a surprise to see that he was actually capable of walking normally. Marlow was so charismatic and moving that Frankenstein, played by Ben Walsh, appeared young and fragile in comparison, well-meaning but hopelessly naïve. The dynamic between them worked well, creating shocking and potent moments that rocked the audience.

The production was not without its lighter moments – the scenes between the monster and his blind teacher were particularly amusing. One particular actor was only ever present on the stage in her underwear, and didn’t say a single word.  Indeed, our favorite moment of the play was when Frankenstein declared "Look at her breasts!" before he and the entire audience swiveled to look at her breasts. There was a curious sexual tension between Elizabeth and the monster, which added a new, if perhaps unintended, dimension to the play.

Frankenstein is a play which is particularly apt for Cambridge, a place full of recluses obsessed with work, who have little notion of human interaction. As the creature was ostracised from society, left out at cool student parties, without friends or the right ‘look’, we knew exactly how he felt. As Elizabeth pleaded with Frankenstein to spend time with her and give up his obsession with work, we thought that I’d been there a few times. As the creature pleaded for a mate, and lamented that the more he learnt the more stupid he felt, it was like he read our minds. And when Frankenstein admitted that he didn’t know how to love, he confirmed every PhysNatSci stereotype we had long harboured. There was even a joke about Oxford thrown in there. If there’s a lesson that we can take from Frankenstein, it’s that we should all put down our books and head out for the evening – to the ADC.

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