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REVIEW: A terrifying tale as Frankenstein's monster comes to life at The Marlowe in Canterbury

Set for a scare? A classic tale of horror awaits those brave enough.

And this version of Frankenstein puts the author, Mary Shelley, in the thick of the action, focusing on her efforts to put the story down on the page.

Eilidh Loan as Mary Shelley (17795434)
Eilidh Loan as Mary Shelley (17795434)

We watch her grappling with her creation, figuring out how her story will unfold in tandem with the actions of her characters on stage.

Actress Eilidh Loan is a commanding presence, striding around and climbing the set with a long leather coat flapping behind her.

She's brisk and, at times strident, as she guides the creation of the monster and deals with the feelings it exposes in herself.

Writer Rona Munro's adaptation seeks to differentiate itself from the much-retold tale not just but putting Mary centre-stage but also making the monster a more human scale, less imposing and more tortured.

Michael Moreland as The Monster and Ben Castle Gibb as Frankenstein (17795663)
Michael Moreland as The Monster and Ben Castle Gibb as Frankenstein (17795663)

The set is stark, whitish-grey stone blocks tree branches with colourless books on shelves and largely monochrome costumes lending an austere air to the background.

Ben Castle Gibb, as Frankenstein, adds colour to proceedings as his scientific experiments pulse with light to bring his creature to life.

His energetic performance sees him race around the stage in stages of mania as his work is fulfilled and later appear physically broken as the reality of his actions and their consequences manifest themselves.

Michael Moreland is the other member of the small cast not taking a dual role, with his version of the monster.

The Monster and Mary Shelley (17795547)
The Monster and Mary Shelley (17795547)

His long stringy hair and scarred torso lend an eerie air to his small stature, made menacing by mannerism rather than height or breadth.

Much time is devoted to his hunt for love and his anger towards his creator, lending him a rather pathetic, desperate air at times.

The production isn't jump-out-of-your-skin terrifying, just a few sudden noises punctuate the scenes.

True horror aficionados may find it rather wordy and underwhelming at times.

Ben Castle Gibb as Victor Frankenstein (17795767)
Ben Castle Gibb as Victor Frankenstein (17795767)

It rather relies on the energy of Mary as she ups the body count and unleashes the full potential of her invention and the power of her imagination.

And given that the author was just a teenager as this story and its monster came to life on the stormy shores of Lake Geneva in 1816, it's rather scary just how masterfully this young gi honed her horror.

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