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