Review by Danny Gaisin
“It’s alive; it’s alive!” a phrase like ‘Frankly my dear….”; “Round up the usual suspects”; or even “May the force be with you” immediately insinuates to a specific story or movie. In this case, (and long before DNA, genomes or stem cells were even a glimmer); it refers to Mary Shelley’s ‘FRANKENSTEIN’, the 1818 Promethean tale about re-creation of life. Last evening was an unusually dark and stormy night for Halloween, but a perfect atmosphere to see the Oakville Players dress rehearsal.
Director Mary Rose has recruited a cast whose members boast one third being 1st-time actors! The result demonstrates the sagaciousness of her selection. Their intensity; dedication and professionalism belies their thespian virginity…there are no weak performers. Rose has incorporated some of her own touches that change mood-set and add freshness to an almost two century-old tale. The title character is portrayed by Mischa Aravena and he instills devotion & persuasiveness to his interpretation of the not-so-mad scientist. His Baron Victor is narrow-focused but affectionate and sincere. His sense of humanity is – surprisingly – only surpassed by that of his fabrication. Rod McTaggart’s ‘creature’ even kills with empathy and kindness. Audiences will probably identify more with him than with any other character except for the butler who ‘didn’t want’ to do it! Veteran actor Michael Brown steals the play as ‘Fritz’ – Frankenstein’s friend cum assistant who becomes uncomfortable with the experimentation considering it against nature and philosophically counter appropriate. Strong support is contributed by Brendan McDowell who represents the scientific reactionary but still devoted comrade; and Robert Laszcz in two diverse roles including the creature’s benefactor – DeLacey.
There are some negatives, a few of which will become ironed out as the play is in full production. Crew will expedite scene changes but the surprisingly unimaginative set design will probably remain unchanged. Act II is longish and drags on far more than the first, in spite of the activities being rendered on stage. The special effects are ‘effective’ including the projected lightning flashes, and sound work is faultless. Costumes by the director herself and her trio help set the era and personify each character. The Make-up team definitely deserve scale & a half.
FRANKENSTEIN is a fascinating play. It’s fun for the audience and obviously enjoyed by its performers. We confess that witnessing it was even more entertaining than handing out goodies to the neighborhood ghouls, goblins, Spidermen and Lady Gaga’s!
Frank; his associates, and the created monster will be at the Oakville Centre until November 10th. Call 1-888-489-7784.