Thursday, October 25, 2007

Frankenstein (A De-Monstration)

If you live in or around Akron, do not miss this production. New World Performance Laboratory is back with another presentation of their ongoing work, Frankenstein (A De-monstration) at UA's Sandefur Theatre. You can see it once more this weekend on Friday, Oct 26th at 8 PM and again on November 1-3.

Do not expect to see anything conventional, because with this company the conventional is a dry husk that is shed again and again. They are in search of the essential. They don't "pretend," they do their actions and in the doing reach the audience in ways we hardly ever experience in the theatre. NWPL's co-directors are James Slowiak and Jairo Cuesta. We are so fortunate that Akron, Ohio became the home to a theatre whose roots reach directly back to the work of 20th century theatre revolutionary, the Polish Laboratory director Jerzy Grotowski.

In this pieced and stitched together response to Mary Shelley's work, we are privy to the creation of the monster story and perhaps into the inner workings of the roving band of creative intellects that burst out of the British Isle in the But there are more monsters lurking within the dynamics of the Percy/Mary /Byron relationship and we are taken up by the very breath and heartbeat into the actions. I was very conscious of my own heart pounding as the actions intensified, which had the unusual effect of allying me with the monster. It seemed to me my heart wasn't my own at that part, and like the monster I could only wonder at the the strange organ beating inside me. It takes an amazing amount of energy and focus to create something so charged with shocking electricity.

I could not get over the shoes worn by the cast. All were wearing the most uncomfortable and unsuitable shoes, except for Frankenstein/Shelley (Chris Buck) and The Creature (Jairo Cuesta) who both were working in bare feet. Lord Byron (Justin Hale) in high heels and The Man (Alex White) in medium heeled pumps worked their change in status to perfection. The Woman (Debora Totti) wore men's dress shoes, while Mary Shelley (Megan Elk) and Elizabeth (Jamie Hale) wore tortuously high heels. This all added up to heighten the gender issues that swirled around the life and times of Mary Shelley and her comrades in art.

The costumes (Inda Geib), lighting (Christ Hariasz) and set (Benjamin Hardin) enhanced the patched-together theme of the material, which could also be a metaphor for the group's creative process. Material used for this production includes Mary Shelley's novel and journals, the poetry of Percy Shelley, Lord Byron, Milton, and texts drawn from Mary Wollstonecraft's A Vindication of the Rights of Women, The Rainbow by DH Lawrence and original material written by the actors. There are references to and lines from classic horror films.

I was fortunate to see the first rendition of this piece last spring. It has grown tremendously, and yet still has that initial fire and astonishing power that made me want more at the initial viewing. I'm definitely going back for another look this time round. NWPL always delivers masterpieces that reveal more and more the deeper you look into them.

1 comment:

microdot said...

sounds very interesting...
on my blog, I wrote about the artist Jacques Tati.
Since then, I found the entire short 1947 short film, L'ecole des Facteurs
(Postmans School) in two parts on You Tube. It's less than 15 minutes long and the quality is jerky flash, but I poted it on thebrainpolice if you are interested.
It is a gem!