Odds and Monsters


Writer-composer Robert Mitchell has not created a monster, nor has he created much of a show with Frankenstein, the Musical, a mostly sung-through adaptation of Mary Shelley’s famed hair-raiser. Shelley, who subtitled her novel “A Modern Prometheus,” had intended to explore the dangers of scientific experimentation and to “speak to the mysterious fear of our nature.” Mitchell seems to have no such high-minded ideas, or perhaps he had too many. Simple production values (an over-reliance on plastic sheeting and black clothing) lend unity to the proceedings, but the narrative is largely incoherent. Scenes spin in and out, with little differentiation between the imagined and the actual. Nor is it clear, under John Henry Davis’s direction, when the six actors play their primary roles and when they switch to other parts.

While the first act follows the novel somewhat faithfully (excepting some scenes of haunting), the second contains some great departures, including a comic number the Creature (Timothy Warmen) sings to his unsuccessfully resurrected mate and a scene in which the Creature rapes Elizabeth (Cadden Jones) before throttling her. Perhaps rape scenes ought not be set to music at all, but if they are, they certainly should not include the repeated lyric “Forgive the intrusion.” (Indeed, Mitchell’s lines lean all too heavily on repetition. A sample: “Justine, Justine, Justine, Justine, Justine!”) So uninspired are the lyrics, that a song in which a boy must recite pages from a children’s primer does not differ materially from the surrounding refrains. Brian Charles Rooney has a few fine moments as Victor, and Warmen, garbed in a cutaway vest, makes quite a muscular creature, but we fear, alas, that we can hardly apply to this turgid production that most oft-quoted of lines from Frankenstein films: “It’s alive!”

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