Review: NoExit's 'Frankenstein'

Two Frankensteins — in puppet form and as played by Matthew Goodrich — accost each other in NoExit's 'Frankenstein.'

★★★★½

NoExit, Wheeler Arts Center, through Oct. 29

I came to see the puppetry, which Frankenstein director Patrick Weigand workshopped this summer at a national puppetry conference in Connecticut. And it is pretty impressive: Think of a life-size wooden artist's model, covered in white plastic wrap, operated by three puppeteers, bringing to life key moments in the life of Frankenstein's monster (his creation, several murders). Sure, it lacks a certain uncanny, I-can't-believe-it's-not-human feel, but that just leaves more brainpower to attend to the rest of the production, a from-the-book interpretation centered around a tortured standoff between the Doctor (Matthew Goodrich) and his creation (Matt Anderson), staged (as in Shelley's book) on an ice floe somewhere in the Arctic.

Goodrich and Anderson counter-incriminate each other with the anger and angst of Bergman heroines, with the monster single-mindedly motivated by revenge after being spurned and the doctor still taking notes about the remarkably life-like behavior of his spawn (while sneaking in digs about his soullessness).

The soul of this NoExit production is in the give-and-take between the two leads — Anderson's creature incarnates our efforts to make sense of the bag of bones which we each inhabit, while Goodrich's Dr. Frankenstein illuminates the limitations of science in the absence of compassion. Flashbacks featuring supporting players tend to compromise the claustrophobia of this standoff.

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