TNB’S Frankenstein brought back to life this week

Victor Frankenstein works on the Creature with the help of Fritz (Book Sadprasid/AQ)

It’s been forty years since Theatre New Brunswick brought him to life. This Halloween season, Frankenstein, The Man Who Became God will be staged at the Fredericton Playhouse once again.

Director Caleb Marshall said the play will honour what was the company’s first original contribution to theatre in Canada, created by Alden Nowlan and Walter Learning.

“We have some photographs and some information about the original production, but we don’t have a video or tons and tons of pictures so we are by no means trying to copy it,” said Marshall.

“Creating theatre can be a struggle, not all companies can always survive. So the sheer fact that our company is still around forty years later and able to honour contribution of its predecessors is very special.”

The play, set in 1840, tells the story of Victor Frankenstein and the creature he created through a science experiment. Marshall said it is important to him that the play doesn’t represent the creature as a rage-filled monster, like other interpretations do, but hopes they show a balanced production that’s true to the script.

“The creature becomes a very articulate communicative being and you feel his pain, you feel his loneliness and I think that creates great theatre because you don’t necessarily just side with Victor and want the creature to fail, you are actually I think torn, you’re equally appalled by Victor and the creature and you’re equally sympathetic to them.”

Gemini Award nominee Ted Atherton plays Victor Frankenstein and says the play is interesting because it pushes all the social limits of the time.

“For him (Victor), certainly at the beginning the fact that he can do it means that he must do it and because this is the 19th century, although it is a society that is becoming enlightened, it’s still a very religious society that’s still very much under the thrall of the church and superstition,” said Atherton.

Marshall says that the large production has brought about obstacles since the play requires a large set with various locations. There is also a lot of trickery involved with bringing the creature to life and fight sequences that require choreography in order for them to be safe.

“The production has a little bit of everything which is great. It means it will have a lot to offer an audience at the end but certainly a bit of a challenge to get all of those elements coordinated together, but its coming together really well. I’m excited about it.

Marshall hopes Frankenstein will grab student attention, which is something the company has been working on for the past several years.

“Getting students to leave campus is sometimes always a little bit of a challenge but TNB’s had a long history of offering a great student ticket of engaging more in our last few years with the TNB next stage of bringing professional work to the black box, so TNB and St. Thomas have a always had a really good relationship.”

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