Frankenstein is a novel written by English author Mary Shelley (1797-1851) that tells the tale of Victor Frankenstein, a young scientist who creates a creature in an unorthodox experiment. The story has stood the test of time having been retold in countless films along with a stage adaptation by A.S. Peterson. The latter is being presented by the talented team at Studio Tenn from August 31 through September 9th, 2018.
Studio Tenn based out of the Jamison Theater in The Factory in Franklin, Tennessee ended their 2017/2018 season on an upbeat note with a spirited version of the musical Grease. For 2018/2019 they chose to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the gothic novel. Studio Tenn presented a dark and dramatic performance that dug deep giving new life to this well-known story.
Images of death surrounded the stage as we found ourselves on a ship. The cold crew picks up a traveler name Victor Frankenstein who will be soon confronted by his Monstrous creation. The two lead characters (effectively played by Jared Reinfeldt and Euriamis Losada respectively) tell how their paths are intertwined. Their interpretations of events are quite different as they explore questions of isolation, love, pain, religion, science, life and death.
Victor a wealthy man admits to becoming obsessed with the power to create. Victor is well loved by his family and future wife Elizabeth (Morgan Davis). Elizabeth is an intelligent, open minded person but Frankenstein is afraid to reveal his secret experiments with her forming a division in a rather ideal relationship. A heartbeat is heard and The Monster comes to life but his maker looks on in horror at what he has invented. The Monster is hurt by the rejection of his “master” and runs off.
Alone The Monster confronts the questions that haunt all humans such as who am I and why was I created. He is desperate for companionship and compassion yet continues to find only rebuff so his heart grows colder just as Victor’s does in his hatred towards his work. The death of Frankenstein’s younger brother William is questionable, for The Monster it was an accident but to Frankenstein it was murder. Yet, Victor allows the family’s devoted governess to be hung for the crime as he was not willing to come forward and confess that his questionable experiment had gone astray. Amanda Card who aptly played the caretaker also handled a number of roles in the drama.
Studio Tenn’s Frankenstein was well acted going to the heart of human emotions as it questioned how far mankind should go when it comes to science. Death and destruction continue to follow the creator and the creature until the climatic close of the performance. Studio Tenn gave another life to this story showing a side of The Monster that some might be able to relate to. The A.S. Peterson (The Battle of Franklin) version left us pondering our own sense of being and that is what fine art does. Studio Tenn also used lighting, shadow and subtle music to enhance the narrative. Costumes were also well thought out. Elizabeth’s pretty dresses was one of the few light elements in this dark, captivating chronicle.
Established in 2009, Studio Tenn is a non-profit, professional theater group based out of Franklin, Tennessee. They are backed by corporate and individual sponsors who support Studio Tenn’s vision “to become a theatre company that is embraced locally, engaged regionally and respected nationally, and to elevate Middle Tennessee to national prominence as a vibrant, viable birthplace and destination for world-class professional theatre.” Frankenstein was a strong kick off for Studio Tenn. Their 2018/2019 calendar will feature Beauty and the Beast, the dramatic Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, The Sinatra Legacy and Damn Yankees – so plan your schedules now.
Studio Tenn continues to bring high quality art to Middle Tennessee. They have a four year plan in hopes of developing educational programs, growing their artist and administrative teams and possibly building a bigger collaborative center for their vision. Please be a part of this by supporting this organization and enjoying the powerful performances that they bring to the community.