- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
By JOSEPH NORRIS
The thing about community theater which has always appealed to me is the skilled and talented folks who do theater for the love of it, who take an otherwise ordinary room and transform it into another world.
Take the Twin Beach Players latest production of “Frankenstein,” taking place at the North Beach Boys & Girls Club at 9021 Dayton Ave. in North Beach. TBP, more so than other local theater groups, is somewhat akin to the orphaned stepchild. They’re working hard to procure a permanent home, but for the past several years they’ve had to hold their productions wherever they can find a stage. But when they find one, they know what to do with it.
Playwright Mark Scharf, who penned this particular version of the Mary Shelly novel of the same name, holds pretty much true to the story of the composite man pulled together with spare parts by mad scientist Victor Frankenstein.
In Scharf’s version, Victor (Kirk Kugel) is a tortured soul who at first envisions his research as something that will benefit mankind. But once he creates the creature (played masterfully by Tom Wines), he begins to fear the consequences of his actions. And well he should.
My only real complaint about PTP’s production of “Frankenstein” is that it took awhile to get into it. One minute of a long, drawn out dirge should have been enough to “set the stage,” so to speak. Five minutes of droning dirge is a bit much. But once things get rolling, they take off quick.
Kevin Smith is the first person you see in the role of Captain Walton, who finds an emaciated Victor Frankenstein (Kugel) on an Arctic ice flow. When he comes to, Victor begins telling the captain his tale of woe and horror.
As Victor tells his “woeful tale,” the sad story unfolds. We are taken back in time to the university. We meet Victor’s bride to be, Elizabeth, performed by Katherine Willham. The play isn’t very far along when it becomes plain that there’s trouble in paradise. She tells her husband that he’s “playing God.” a circumstance that “troubles me in my soul,” Elizabeth tells the professor.
Victor retorts, “I know I can make a man who will never get sick, who will never grow old.”
The captain finds Victor’s story “too fantastic to believe.”
Although there were quite a few children at the production I saw (it was interesting to watch 8 year olds glued to their seat every time the creature makes an appearance), this play is very dark. There aren’t many guffaws, that’s for sure (One line that was pretty funny occurs when Elizabeth asks Victor, “What’s going on in your brain?” and he responds, “Please! No more talk of brains.”).
Things go awry, of course. The creature is not pretty to look at. Everyone who encounters him — with the exception of a blind woman who can sense his soul — recoils in horror. Among the monster’s first victims is Victor’s brother William (Colton Jarboe, who can scream with the best of them).
The monster contronts his maker and demands that Victor create a companion for him, vowing that if he fulfills this wish, he will vanish forever. At first, Victor agrees, but then the climactic scene comes where Victor finally refuses. The resulting chaos, predictably, is that the creature takes his fury out on Victor’s new wife, beginning a life or death chase that ends in the Arctic wilderness.
The sets are simple, but effective. The acting is consistent and kudos to director Sid Curl for getting his actors to act not only by reciting their lines, but with their expressions. A good expression is worth a thousand words, and in the case of Victor, Kugel is adept at bringing such emotion to the role, you honestly feel for his plight.
The supporting cast is very good. And to Scharf’s credit, the creature has the best lines, many of which bring to light the age old question of who is the man and who is the monster?