Frankenstein has been brought back to life many times over in theatre. This time, with Mily Mumford as the writer and director, Frankenstein was resurrected in the German Nazi era. Dr Frankenstein (Gregory Radzimowski) is under the wing of the seemingly emotionless Dr Herta Oberhauser (Jessica Quartel). His professional ethics begin to shift as he experiments on prisoners’ bodies in his search for the indestructible human body.
The emotional tensions that Dr Frankenstein must face are further extenuated when his lover, Dr Elizabeth Lavenskova (Madelyn Osborne) questions his laboratory experiments. While she sees the monster in him growing, her love for Dr Frankenstein grounds him in his humanity.
I thought it was quite insightful of Mumford to bring Mary Shelley’s classic horror to the real life human horror of World War II. Mumford plays with the ideas of human monstrosity and artificial life that malignly combines well with Nazism and genocide. The dark topic is lightened by some classic film noir detective comedy throughout the play, as two investigators narrate the plot.
Radzimowski’s emotional portrayals of Dr Frankenstein’s experimental and ethical burdens shone through the dramatic strains of his vocal tones. However, it was the corrupt expressions of Dr Herta Oberhauser that struck me most. While her cold demeanour complimented her controversial ethics, her humane sanctity is repeated by the same phrase throughout the play: “Have you ever lost someone that you would do anything to bring back?” It’s chilling to hear those same words repeated by Dr Frankenstein, validating that his morals are transforming to justify his monstrous creation.
Frankenstein 1945 is a thoughtful and original Vancouver-based play that local contemporary artists, academics, and film noir fans will enjoy. The insightful topic matter will make you compare the questionable morals of human history and present that is both thought-provoking and spine-tingling.