Skip to main content Skip to footer site map

Review: FRANKENSTEIN at Southwest Shakespeare Company

Review: FRANKENSTEIN at Southwest Shakespeare Company

BWW Review: Frankenstein

The power of classic literature is its ability to transport the reader to an imaginary world. The classic story of Frankenstein by Mary Shelley is filled with terror, genius, and murder. In this adaptation for the stage by Quinn Mattfield, directed by Patrick Walsh, the overwhelming sense of dread is pervasive. There is a minimal set, expertly handled by the actors, which amplifies the haunted and empty feeling. The Creature's presence is felt whether he is on stage or not. The audience is left breathless as the tragedy unfolds; held captive by the fear of the unknown.

Jesse James Kamps plays Viktor Frankenstein with a cerebral air. There are hints of his lunacy, and an unsettling calmness about him; like his genius is too much for his brain to handle. Kamps has excellent chemistry with his cohorts and although Frankenstein is not meant to be likeable, Kamps is charming and the audience understands why Henry would befriend him.

As Elizabeth, Kim Stephenson Smith is smart, affable, and clever. She is a formidable opponent for Viktor and the Creature. She does not wilt in the face of danger or calamity and knows there is more than Viktor is telling her. Smith is an exceptional actress and handles the material deftly. The Creature is played by Joshua Murphy. It is apparent that the Creature is a tortured soul, although Murphy displays him with a measure of arrogance. Murphy is energetic, but menacing, and his physical strength adds another level of terror to an already intimidating presence.

The supporting cast is phenomenal. As there is a minimal set, the actors use their bodies to present the action. The coordinated movement of the set pieces, against the backdrop of the historic Globe stage replica, combined with the fantastic technical elements, the actors become the set which gives the story the full attention it deserves. As Henry Clerval, Dalton Davis is gregarious and kind. His smile brings a needed lightness to an otherwise depressing tale. As Professor Waldman and De Lacey, Doug Waldo is wonderful. He speaks clearly and is the perfect mentor. Beau Heckman plays multiple roles and is a master of facial expression and accents. Bonnie Beus Romney as Mary Walliser is involved in one of the most striking and disconcerting scenes in the show. She handles the role with dexterity and grace. Playing two of the younger roles, Bethany Baca is charming. Kellyn Masters played several roles and also sang the haunting melody that underscored several of the scenes. She is wonderful singer and brings a delightful presence to the proceedings. Despite the seriousness of the story, there is humor to be found and the cast handled these moments beautifully. Ryan L. Jenkins and Seth Scott play Agatha and Felix, respectively. As the family who teaches the Creature about humanity and love, Jenkins and Scott have a natural chemistry. Jenkins is sincere and she presents the terror a mother would feel knowing her family is in danger. Scott plays Felix with sincerity. It is easy for the audience to believe this family and what the Creature learned from them. Melissa Toomey plays William, whom the audience never sees, but his presence is imperative to the unraveling of Viktor. She appears as other characters on stage and rounds out this fantastic ensemble.

This adaptation is not a direct re-telling of the novel, but it adds much to the character and humanity of the Creature. There is some shuffling of the dialogue in the timeline, but is an accurate representation of the plight of humanity at the hands of a thoughtless creator. Frankenstein, presented by Southwest Shakespeare Company in its 25th Anniversary season, runs through November 7th at Mesa Arts Center.

Photo Courtesy of Southwest Shakespeare Company



Great Arizona Puppet Theater to Host Special Guest Artist Pete Sands This Month Photo
Guest Artist Pete Sands will present 'NAVAJO HIGHWAYS': Born and raised at the Navajo Reservation in Utah, Pete Sands hopes to make learning about Diné language and culture fun for children through his show 'Navajo Highways.' Come meet Ash and Sadie, two cousins, as they show what their life is like in the Navajo Nation.

Greasepaint Youtheatre Presents INTO THE WOODS Beginning Next Week Photo
Be careful what you wish for in the musical fractured fairy tale INTO THE WOODS.  Find out what happens to some of your favorite fairy tale characters at the end of their stories in the Greasepaint Youtheatre production February 10 –19, 2023

Theatre for Young Audiences USA Presents the 2023 TYA/USA National Festival & Conferen Photo
Theatre for Young Audiences USA (TYA/USA), the national organization that provides advocacy and resources to the field of Theatre for Young Audiences, in collaboration with Childsplay in Tempe, Arizona, will present the 2023 TYA/USA National Festival & Conference: AMPLIFY on May 9-12, 2023.

Scottsdale Arts Opens Two New Exhibitions In February Photo
In February, Scottsdale Arts Learning & Innovation will open two new exhibitions — “Unintended Consequences” and “con∙text” — examining human actions and how they affect the world and the people inhabiting it. 


From This Author - Emily Noxon

Emily Noxon has been singing since she found her voice as a baby. Emily has had the opportunity to sing with Rascal Flatts, The Little River Band, and open for Boyz II Men. Her first major role was... (read more about this author)


Review: COME FROM AWAY at ASU GammageReview: COME FROM AWAY at ASU Gammage
June 16, 2022

This amazing show is not to be missed. See what our critic had to say. 

BWW Review: SOMETHING ROTTEN at The Phoenix Theatre CompanyBWW Review: SOMETHING ROTTEN at The Phoenix Theatre Company
May 12, 2022

Something Rotten! is an homage to musical theater and the great bard, William Shakespeare. Come witness the hilarity, amazing music, and heart felt joy of this fantastic production.

BWW Review: MOJADA: A MEDEA IN LOS ANGELES at Southwest Shakespeare CompanyBWW Review: MOJADA: A MEDEA IN LOS ANGELES at Southwest Shakespeare Company
May 6, 2022

Madea and her family have immigrated to the United States from Mexico. Following the turmoil and tragedy of their trip, acclimating to life in a new country proves to difficult and devastating.

BWW Review: THE TEMPEST at Southwest Shakespeare CompanyBWW Review: THE TEMPEST at Southwest Shakespeare Company
March 3, 2022

A shipwreck by magical design maroons a group on a remote island where Prospero, the former Duke of Milan, confronts his treacherous brother.

BWW Review: SINGIN' IN THE RAIN at The Phoenix Theatre CompanyBWW Review: SINGIN' IN THE RAIN at The Phoenix Theatre Company
February 6, 2022

Don Lockwood and Lena Lamont are the most famous silent movie stars of their time. When audiences start clamoring for talkies, Don, Cosmo, the Studio, and Don's new lady love, Kathy, have to get creative to ensure the movie is a success because Lena doesn't have the voice for the talkies.