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Reflections: Frankenstein at the National Theatre (via ntlive)

This is theatre of ideas, forcing us into a world scarily similar to our everyday. A world where humans can be reanimated. A world of the uncanny-valley, the creature himself – a collage of flesh and meat – abhorrent less because of how it’s come about and more because of how startlingly human he his, but not so accurate to be an actual man.

This is the creature’s story. A story of longing and loneliness, of bigotry and monsterism.

What if – a man is born fully made, though horrible to look at he is a sympathetic as any new born, what will become of such a man if they are abandoned and left to fend for themselves? Who will they turn too? What will they seek out?

This is the question behind Frankenstein. It is heart breaking in its answers.

Confronted by bigotry and abuse the creature with the wit and intelligence of a man slowly becomes the monster that is his destiny. It’s a tragedy of the worse kind. A tragedy of isolation and abandonment, where the creature’s behaviour is not so much justified, for murder and violence is never justified, as motivated. Indeed, he is all too human in his motivations and in his desires.

And what does he seek? The same as any man, companionship and love. It is through his maker, Frankenstein, that he sees his great hope of achieving this. Frankenstein driven by pride and desire of perfection sees in the creature only his failure. For what has Frankenstein created – certainly not the perfection his was after – no only the human, the real, the commonplace.

Where the abusive relationship between the creature and his maker may be the heart of the drama, the all to easy humanisation of the creature is the mind of it. Why? For in the world of Frankenstein, in every sense, the creature is a person, born in a cradle of filth, spat out onto an unsuspecting citizenry. As a person we must necessarily honour him with all the rights and status of any other. If we have a soul then we must say so does the creature, if we have a mind then so does the creature, if the creature is nothing but muck and filth then so are we.

Monster? Yes. But only in the sense that we are all monsters.

Frankenstein @ The National Theatre

Goto ntlive.com to see the National Theatre in a cinema near you.

Reflections: Apollo 13 Mission Control @ Brisbane Powerhouse

Raise your hand if you like a bit of Tom Hanks in a tin can?

You know what I mean. The movie Apollo 13. It is just bloody good fun, in that whole will he or wont he kind of way. Spoiler. He does.

Question. Take this story based on the events of the ill-fated Apollo 13 mission and then stick it on stage where the audience (or at least a good deal of them) is in mission control and what do you have?

Well, want you don’t have is the will he or wont he. Not because there isn’t a Tom Hanks in sight, and certainly not because the fundamental story isn’t gripping. It is, regardless of familiarity.

But perhaps primarily because of the way it is done. This is an experiment in immersive theatre where the audience is involved in the re-telling of the drama. This is it’s strength and it’s weakness.

Your average person of the street is not a trained actor and will have only a basic familiarity with the story. Ask them even on mass to help in a re-telling and you got to be on your game. And indeed Hackman (the creators) are on their game, amazingly so.

Review: I Love You, Bro – La Boite

Charming, delicate, and deliciously self-mocking this lovingly crafted one man show is an absolute winner.

Johnny is a fourteen year old logged onto a chat room as LBJ. There he meets Markymark. A football star a couple of years his senior. Markymark mistakes LBJ to be a girl. Oh the deliciousness of it all. What pranks could a fourteen year boy pull on the older lad? Well, not so much of a prank. No, in fact, Johnny falls in love with him.

For serious right? Well, yes, but also a lot of bloody fun.

You see, what is poor old Johnny (as LBJ) going to say to him when he wants to meet? That’s right, Markymark is a regular horny teenage boy who’s going to want to see this LBJ in the flesh (if you get my drift), I mean, really wants to see this LBJ. Clearly this isn’t going to work for Johnny. And so the real deception begins. LBJ gets a step-brother, then another step-brother (actually Johnny) then a dangerous ex-boyfriend out for revenge, parents, obviously – and well – the cast of fictitious characters begins to outweigh the actual. Indeed a veritable army of online handles come into existence all designed to help Johnny get his man. And does he? Well, you’ll have to see it.

Our hero is brilliantly writ and played. The language walks this beautiful balance of teenage innocence crossed with an adult sophistication able to comment on the shear absurdity of the increasingly complex story Johnny creates.

Sure the play captures unrequited love, but perhaps more interestingly, there is a real art to the way Johnny goes about playing his creations. Throwing himself deep into the lie, so even he begins to lose sight of the real.

I Love You, Bro is one of those rare theatrical treats where we get to be kids and adults, where we laugh, where we barrack for our hero, where we go on the roller-coaster too. Although it is based of an English story, it’s Australian theatre at its most fine.

Recommended for all. Take a date, take you’re mum, take your son. Either way you’ll get a good laugh and a fine night out.

Show watched Thursday 22nd July 2010.

Playing at La Boite Theatre at the Roundhouse. Season extended until 15th Aug 2010.