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BWW Review: FRANKENSTEIN; OR, THE MODERN PROMETHEUS at Open Stage

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A Thought-Provoking New Adaptation of a Classic Horror Tale

BWW Review: FRANKENSTEIN; OR, THE MODERN PROMETHEUS at Open Stage

Mary Shelley's 1818 novel Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus, has inspired numerous TV, film, and stage adaptations. Frankenstein, as it's commonly known, explores a number of intriguing questions: What makes humans human? What makes an entity evil or good? How far should science go in unraveling the mysteries of life and death? How should humans use their knowledge? Now through October 25th, Open Stage presents an adaptation of Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus by Rachel Landon directed by Stuart Landon and Brianna Dow. The play is performed and produced by the staff of Open Stage and is available for audiences to watch on-line via YouTube. To watch the show, RSVP at www.openstagehbg.com. While donations are greatly appreciated, especially during these difficult times, Open Stage is offering their Season 35 on-line shows for free so that everyone can experience the magic of theatre.

Open Stage's production of Frankenstein is remarkable. All of the elements of the production come together to give the audience the experience of a classic gothic horror story. The lighting, designed by Brianna Dow and Stuart Landon and assisted by Tristan Stasiulis, is brilliant. The creative use of light and shadow, combined with the staging and camera angles, serve to heighten the mystery, madness, and sense of impending doom that characterize the tale of Victor Frankenstein. The original score by Nicholas Werner deserves a special round of applause. The music is the perfect accompaniment to the storyline and draws the audience into the action.BWW Review: FRANKENSTEIN; OR, THE MODERN PROMETHEUS at Open Stage

The cast is certainly up to the challenge of performing a show that is essentially a hybrid of stage performance and a film. They manage to provide the audience with the immediacy and intimacy of a stage performance even though it is being experienced on screen. Stuart Landon takes on the role of Alphonse, Victor Frankenstein's father. Stuart Landon plays the role with a quiet strength, showing Alphonse handling the losses in his life almost stoically, in a clear contrast to the obsessive nature of his son. Rachel Landon tackles two roles in the show-Caroline (Victor's Mother) and Justine (the maid and Victor's assistant). These are two very different roles, and she portrays each of them equally well, changing her voice, posture, and expressions to suit each role. It is always a joy to hear Rachel Landon sing, which she does as Caroline caring for Victor when he falls ill. This is a beautiful and heartbreaking scene. Justine is an intriguing and complex character, and the audience experiences every one of Justine's emotions-hope, fear, sadness, compassion, and pain-through Rachel Landon's performance.BWW Review: FRANKENSTEIN; OR, THE MODERN PROMETHEUS at Open Stage

Chris Gibson portrays Henry, who is Victor's best friend from childhood, and The Creature. It is difficult to find words to describe Gibson's performance. Having seen various versions of the story with countless interpretations of these two characters, this reviewer has seldom seen a performance of either of these characters that was so compelling. Gibson's performance as The Creature is particularly thought-provoking, leading the audience to wonder who is really the monster. One of the most heartrending and beautiful scenes in the show is between Gibson as The Creature and Rachel Landon as Justine near the end of the show-the love, compassion, mercy, and selflessness Gibson shows us in The Creature is astonishing.

Benny Benamati takes on the title role as Victor Frankenstein. Benamati's Frankenstein seems so logical and reasonable at first, but as the obsession with triumphing over death takes hold, the audience begins to see the cracks in the character's self-control. Benamati does a fantastic job of highlighting Frankenstein's ego as the character compares himself to Prometheus and neglects to see his creation as anything more than a specimen. The confrontation between Frankenstein and The Creature by the lake is a superb scene for both Benamati and The Creature. One of the best parts of Benamati's performance, though, is the fact that the audience does not have any idea as to how deeply disturbed Frankenstein is until the final few scenes of the show. When it finally becomes apparent, as the audience looks back over the performance, they can recall little moments in previous scenes that offered wonderfully subtle clues. It is an extremely well-directed and well-acted performance from start to finish.

This version of Frankenstein is unique for so many reasons. This may actually be one of the most interesting adaptations this reviewer has ever seen of the story. Landon's adaptation delves into the areas of psychology, philosophy, mythology, and theology in thought-provoking ways, inviting the audience to ask the big questions-questions about humanity, life and death, pain and compassion, madness and sanity. The twists in Landon's adaptation are intellectually fascinating and lend an interpretation to the story that feels very modern-interesting and relatable for a contemporary audience.

Open Stage's adaptation of Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus is a wonderfully unique theatre experience that you can enjoy from the comfort and safety of your own home. Visit www.openstagehbg.com to RSVP for a performance of this show and prepare to, in the words of Stuart Landon, "lean forward and open your mind."

BWW Review: FRANKENSTEIN; OR, THE MODERN PROMETHEUS at Open Stage


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From This Author Andrea Stephenson