Review: A Blistering Adaptation of FRANKENSTEIN Will Take Your Breath Away at Jobsite Theater

Adapted by Nick Dear from the novel by Mary Shelley, onstage through November 12, 2023.

By: Oct. 20, 2023
Review: A Blistering Adaptation of FRANKENSTEIN Will Take Your Breath Away at Jobsite Theater
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No man is a monster...”

“If I am a murderer, then you made me one...” -The Creature

Set to the “heartbeat” of an unbelievably brilliant sound design by Jeremy Douglass, Jobsite Theater’s presentation of Nick Dear’s Frankenstein, is a slow-burn, salt-in-the- wound, gripping, tour-de-force that will leave you speechless.

Book-ended by the absolutely marvelous and invigorating work of 8 performers playing some 17 odd characters, this is one ensemble that captures the heart of this story and takes a classic tale to new heights.

There are moments of sheer possession, where an actor fully embodies the character in which they are playing, and at times other characters on stage. This is a fresh take on a classic tale, spun upside down on its head, delivering a reincarnation of classic characters, and performances that will sear themselves into your nightmares.

“Is this the region, this the soil, the clime,

Said then the lost Archangel, this the seat

That we must change for Heaven, this mournful gloom

For that celestial light?” -The Creature

Whenever I embark on an outing to experience the thrills of a live performance, one thing comes to mind. On the drive to the venue, I find myself pondering the events to come, I find myself in mental preparation for what I am about to experience. When I sit in my chair, turn my phone on the ever-important “Do Not Disturb,” setting, and take in my surroundings, I am also preparing myself for the journey I am about to take. I am surveying the set design, listening to the different musings/comings and goings of those around me, and listening to the pre-show music, all in preparation for the current speech and the first light fall.

Now the following can go one of two ways, either I am thoroughly entertained and make reference notes about memorable moments, or I take nary a note because I am either entirely enthralled by the performances on the stage, or I’d rather wait it out to see the outcome of a show I would find myself wishing to be over. Here is where Jobsite continually excels, and I am telling you firsthand that not a single note had to be taken, for fear I would miss the sheer brilliance being brought to the stage from first light to final bow.

I left the Shimberg utterly gutted by the sheer magnitude of what was on display, and today as I write this, I am currently still in awe of the elevated nature behind every moment. For in this production not only was the Creature a product of its creation, but it resembled an unparalleled mirror into the human psyche, and what makes us as a society innately human.

So with that being said, where does that take us from here? Jobsite’s presentation of Frankenstein is chocked full of incredible performances, and such captivating staging all at the hands of Artistic Director David Jenkins and Company. It’s good company we keep, and as we spend some time breaking down each character, I want to reiterate this is unlike anything Jobsite has produced, and maybe their strongest and most moving piece in recent years. The strongest ensemble to grace an area stage in some time, and one that you should stop everything to bare witness to its greatness.

Starting at the top with enigmatic, and brilliant everyman Giles Davies as Victor Frankenstein. Donned in a pageboy-type wig, and dominating stage presence, here we see Giles’ vulnerable side. We get to see the heart of the scientist whom created the creature. We get to see the depth of his madness, and what drives him to greatness. Giles is extraordinary here, and in its own right is almost the antagonist of our tale. I think that is what separates Nick Dear’s adaptation from other amalgamations of the tale. We see Frankenstein as a broken man, driven to madness as an escape from the world and real love. his drive to be the best is his fatal flaw. When you want top-notch characterization driven by an undeniable stage presence, and at its root bearing every flaw on their sleeve, you call Giles Davies, and here his presence is otherworldly, bringing new heights to his already incredible body of work.

Every chance I had of love, I threw away. Every shread of human warmth, I cut to pieces. Hatred is what I understand. Only you give me purpose...” -Victor Frankenstein

Paul J. Potenza as the Creature is truly the best of the best. The first portion of the show, is just captivating, and pulls you in from the start. We find a wounded soul in the Creature, not only searching for his place in the world, but also learning how to speak, move, eat, and love. All the basic human emotions we are taught, he has to fend for himself. Potenza is hands down the best character, physical, and nuanced performer in our area. With his latest additions as The Elephant Man in TampaRep’s production last season, and last year’s Reinfeld in Jobsite’s Dracula, Potenza has built an incredible breadth of work. As the Creature you sense his pain, not only emotionally, but physically. The first few minutes of the opening pulls you into a captivating chokehold, you lose all air, you lose all sense of self, as you are immediately drawn into the world, the heart and soul of this character. At the capable, and strong hands of Potenza, the Creature has never been delivered such as this, and I can guarantee we won’t be able to find another performance to top this one in the near future, if not this lifetime. A truly remarkable performance, by  one of the most magnetic and powerful performers to ever grace our stages.

William Alejandro Barba assumes multiple roles in the story, portraying Gustav, Ewan , and Servant 1. His performance helps move the story along at a rapid pace and allows us to see how Frankenstein achieved some of the things he was able to produce. Last seen in Jobsite’s A Clockwork Orange, he was a great addition to the company here.

Troy Brooks makes his Jobsite debut as Klaus, Rab, Constable and Servant 2. Troy’s performance here helps move the scenes with Barba’s portrayals along nicely, often times relying on comedic timing to break the tension. Having last seen Troy in OffCentral’s Something Clean, he is a welcomed addition to the company and a welcomed debut to this side of the Bay.

Logan Franke, last seen in Jobsite’s Dracula is wonderful here in her roles as Agatha, Maid and Clarice. Logan’s moments in the tale opposite Smallen are a joy to watch. Logan was exceptional in Dracula, and her moments her, albeit brief, are a wonderful addition to the company.

Blake Smallen as Client, Felix and William is captivating here. They are almost unrecognizable. Having last seen them onstage in Jobsite’s Picasso at the Lapin Agile, and the Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui, they take on new heights here. There is a moment late in the show in which Giles’ Frankenstein falls asleep and in his dream, interacts with his late brother William. Blake has an out-of-body experience and almost becomes possessed by the nature of another character. Something I have never seen from this young performer, and one that will keep them on my radar for many years to come. I cannot wait to see where their career will take them from here, the sky’s the limit, and their performance in Frankenstein is limitless.

Jobsite Veteran Katrina Stevenson as Gretel, Female Creature, and Elizabeth Lavenza is magnetic from the start. Not only in stage presence, but the way she moves about the space, as if she is in another realm entirely, and we the audience merely flies on the wall in her orbit. As Elizabeth she captures the role of a woman scorned effortlessly, she wishes to be loved, touched, and held by her betrothed. She wishes for human connection, later which we find out is her fatal flaw. Katrina captivates the stage and leaves nothing in her wake, a truly beautiful, and a reckoning of a performance.

Hugh Timoney takes on DeLacey, and Monsieur Frankenstein in our tale. As DeLacey he does a great job playing the doting, yet blind father. His interactions with the Creature are of a nurturing nature, even though he has no idea of the horrors in the room before him. As Monsieur Frankenstein, we see a stoic man of the law, and at his right hand, the ability to obliterate anything in his way, even if its his own blood. No stranger to the Jobsite Artistic Core, Hugh is wonderful here.

Artistically beautiful from top to bottom, and from a Technical standpoint Jobsite does it again, with a vast array of beautiful scenic elements that are on display here. The exceptional set design by Brian Smallheer produces a smaller-than-normal concept, but just wait until the show starts. There is not an inch of the stage that goes unused. Working hand in hand with the beautiful lighting design by Jo Averill-Snell, this show is on a whole other level. The lighting here takes on a character in the story, its stark when it needs to be, eerie when it should be, and helps propel the story forward in only a way Jo knows how to conceptualize. A truly stunning display of work by both Smallheer and Averill-Snell. Michael Horn contributes a beautifully rendered boat concept that is somewhat industrial and yet, nordic in nature. Backlit by the beautiful lighting plot, makes this moment almost seem like the boat is floating on the stage. Its a totally surreal moment you never see coming, and it will take your breath away. Marvelous work by those involved. Costume Design by Katrina Stevenson beautifully works with the time period and is exceptionally rendered. Im always in awe of the beautiful work on display especially when the designer is in the show, and often times one of the more demanding roles. Logan Franke’s Special FX Makeup works beautifully here, the work on the Creature is on another level, and her level of placement, and design is exceptional.

For the final technical marvel that lends itself to this already incredible work, is that of the Sound Design by the incredible Jeremy Douglass. From the first heartbeat, to the interludes moving throughout the story, you can feel the heart and soul behind this piece.  Earlier this week, prior to seeing the performance I came across a Facebook post by Jeremy himself, stating that this is probably his favorite work he has ever done. Well Jeremy,  I can say for me, the sound design in this instance is another character added into the mix and it gels beautifully. The work here is something of a whole other level, and one where I feel you truly catapulted through the threshold, and I was so happy to be worthy to sit in the room and experience the masterpiece first hand. This is truly something special my friends, and one that I will find myself referencing for some time.

David M. Jenkins, has done it again. He and his Artistic Core with some new additions, have once again transported us to another time and place. Through unique staging, conceptualized design, and magnetic performances you will find nothing in the same realm as this production of Frankenstein. Truly deserving of all the accolades it will receive. Jobsite is celebrating its 25th Anniversary Season, and this one just may be their best one yet.

This October, as the air cools down, the nights get darker, and the witching hour is closer than ever, if you’re looking for that extra chill in your soul, then look no further than Jobsite’s presentation of Nick Dear’s adaptation of Frankenstein. For not only will it leave you breathless, leave you wanting more, but it ultimately will make you question Humanity and the nature of what it means to be loved. Wrap your head around that, and head on over to for tickets. Only onstage through November 12th, with many performances already sold-out. DO NOT be left out in the cold on this one, for this is one performance, one ensemble, one night you will never soon forget.

I am good at the art of assimilation. I have watched, and listened, and learnt. At first I knew nothing at all. But I studied the ways of men, and slowly I learnt: how to ruin, how to hate, how to debase, how to humiliate. And at the feet of my master, I learnt the highest of human skills, the skill no other creature owns: I finally learnt how to lie.” -The Creature

All I wanted was your love. I would have loved you with all my heart. My poor creator.”  -The Creature



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