September 29, 2008

We All Have Monster Problems

By Aurelio Sanchez Journal Staff Writer

The monster isn't Frankenstein; it could be you. Mary Shelley in 1816 penned the Gothic tale of Frankenstein's monster, an archetypal tormented character who explored the often shocking duality of people, showing not only a great capacity for good, but also an equally deep potential for evil.

Conceived by Shelley in a rainy-days challenge with Lord Byron to quash a crushing boredom, Frankenstein has since fascinated, terrorized and inspired in countless incarnations of a story about a hideous creature cobbled from the parts of the dead, and becoming, miraculously, more divine than its creator.

The University of New Mexico Department of Theatre and Dance is presenting "Frankenstein," adapted by R.N. Sandberg from Shelley's 19th-century horror novel.

The UNM adaptation, unlike most film versions, is perhaps one of the versions truest to Shelley's original story, said Kristen Loree, who is directing the play.

Though it's a relatively straight telling, it's also a stirring juxtaposition of images and sounds staged on a beautiful set that Loree said will create a surreal experience for playgoers.

The experience is created in part by designers Dorothy Baca (costumes), David Horowitz (scenic), Brian McNamarra (lighting) and Tom Monahan (sound).

"Imagine Mary Shelley meets Salvador Dali," Loree said.

But even more than fantastic imagery, the sense of surreal is created by Shelley's rich subtext and themes embedded in a story about one man's monstrous attempt to play God.

"Set in the icy polar regions, scientist Victor Frankenstein creates an intelligent, articulate, sensitive and powerfully violent child, and traces their paths to a final confrontation," Loree said. "It transcends the monster story and becomes a complex psychological drama."

The stage adaptation by Sandberg, an award-winning playwright and screenwriter, explores themes like the relationship between creator and created, greed and isolation, the duality of mankind, technology versus faith, injustice and the cruelty shown to those who don't look or act like us.

Loree said that for her, the most compelling theme was abandonment, manifested by Dr. Frankenstein when he chose to forsake his own responsibilities by abandoning his creation.

"I was fascinated with the question of what it means to be a forgotten child, and what it means to be the father of an abandoned child," she said.

Audience members may contemplate any of a range of other themes they may discover in the work, Loree said.

"I've always loved that it's a very real horror story, but it can be interpreted in so many different ways," she said. "It gives the audience the chance to project their own fears and lacks into it, which makes it all the more frightening."

The cast features Theodore Jackson (Victor Frankenstein), Starnes Reveley (The Creature), and Amanda Machon (Elizabeth).

"This play is a brilliant metaphor for so many aspects of the conscious and unconscious, but the set design is going to look gorgeous," she said. "It will be delightful to watch and a delight to look at."

If you go

WHAT: "Frankenstein"

WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 3, Saturday, Oct. 4, Oct. 9-11 and 2 p.m. Oct. 5

WHERE: Rodey Theatre, UNM Center for the Arts

HOW MUCH: Tickets $15 general, $10 faculty and seniors, $8 staff and students. Tickets available at the UNM Ticket Office, 925-5858, or (800) 905-3315, or online at www.unmtickets. com

(c) 2008 Albuquerque Journal. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All rights Reserved.