RE­VIEW

Irish Independent - Weekend Review - - CULTURE - KATYHAYES KATYHAYES

Michael West has writ­ten a new ver­sion of for Theatre Lovett, cor­ralling the themes of the novel into a 70-minute solo show about a man in the grip of psy­chosis. 2018 is the two hun­dredth an­niver­sary of the book’s first pub­li­ca­tion, and the two cen­turies since then have seen count­less re-tellings of the story on stage and screen; we all have a ver­sion of the monster in our head.

West’s con­tem­po­rary spin is that Doc­tor Franken­stein, a for­mer teenage prodigy with a PhD in Molec­u­lar Ge­net­ics, has cre­ated a clone of him­self in or­der to study and cure a ge­netic con­di­tion which killed his beloved mother. Once cre­ated, this clone dis­gusts him and he turns his back on it. The clone-crea­ture then goes on a killing ram­page, and the po­lice find Franken­stein’s ge­netic fin­ger­prints at the scenes of the crimes. Hence, he is in­car­cer­ated, and at­tempts to con­vince the au­di­ence of his in­no­cence.

As West points out in the pro­gramme note, the use of the name Franken­stein for both the crea­ture and the sci­en­tist has be­come com­mon. In this ver­sion, the monster and the man are one. Maybe. The idea dips into that other classic of the 19th Cen­tury Gothic, Robert Louis Stevenson’s Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

Clever set de­sign by Ger Clancy in­cludes a rec­tan­gle above the ac­tion that looks like a prison sky­light, but is also a screen which gives an al­ter­na­tive per­spec­tive on the ac­tion. The dark, spare fur­nish­ings and set­ting cre­ate an ex­cel­lent can­vas for Sara Jane

HERO

Smock Al­ley Boys’ School Au­gust 27–31

First seen last year in Theatre Up­stairs, this one-man show writ­ten by Ken Ro­gan and per­formed by Daithí MacSuib­hne por­trays a testos­terone-fu­elled lad’s at­tempt to un­der­stand ro­mance, set in an el­e­gant bar. Di­rected by Amilia Ste­wart. Shiels spec­tac­u­lar light­ing, which ranges across an ef­fec­tive colour pal­ette of blues, or­anges and reds, as well as in­cor­po­rat­ing shapes and strobes. She cre­ates a bril­liant psy­chosis made of light. Com­poser and sound de­signer Dunk Mur­phy adds to this tech­ni­cal dis­so­nance with fizzing elec­tronic sounds and at­mo­spheric mu­sic.

Louis Lovett as Franken­stein gives an im­pres­sive per­for­mance, de­ploy­ing his mime skills and his abil­ity with sounds to cre­ate an en­tire snowy land­scape com­plete with wildlife, as well as cap­tur­ing the psy­chic com­plex­ity of the dis­in­te­grat­ing sci­en­tist. Di­rec­tor Muire­ann Ah­ern knits these per­for­mance in­ge­nu­ities into the en­tire pro­duc­tion, keep­ing the mo­men­tum high. The only off-note is struck at the be­gin­ning: Lovett does a bit of au­di­ence warm-up which doesn’t feel right. Chum­ming up to the au­di­ence and mak­ing your­self like­able is the po­lar op­po­site of what is needed to cre­ate a Gothic at­mos­phere, and feels like a hang­over from Theatre Lovett’s chil­dren’s shows. The ac­tor then has to work hard to un­wind this play­ful­ness and gen­er­ate proper ten­sion.

West’s script is clever and per­cep­tive; it cap­tures the es­sen­tial self-delu­sion of a man who has the mo­ral com­pass to un­der­stand his crimes but seeks to dis­tance him­self from them. It turns Mary Shel­ley’s Gothic ad­ven­ture into a fas­ci­nat­ing psy­cho­log­i­cal jour­ney around the chal­leng­ing land­scape of a mad and guilty mind.

GOOD VI­BRA­TIONS Lyric Theatre, Belfast Sept 1–30

Stage mu­si­cal based on the re­cent pop­u­lar film about the life and times of Terri Hoo­ley, record shop owner and Belfast mu­sic le­gend. North­ern Ire­land punk clas­sics from the 1970s cel­e­brate an al­ter­na­tive Ul­ster, whilst the Trou­bles rage.

Ire­land’s Call

Con­nors with :a por­trait of three young Dublin men, in­ves­ti­gat­ing what shapes them and draws them to a life of crime. Con­nors is a well-known face from Love/Hate and the hit in­de­pen­dent Ir­ish film, Card­board Gang­sters.

Lau­ren Larkin, who might­ily im­pressed as a trou­ble­some, preg­nant rough­sleeper in Druid’s re­cent new play, Shel­ter, has cre­ated a hair­dresser in .Itis a show about the in­ti­ma­cies shared on a hair­dresser’s chair.

Fionn Fo­ley (inset), seen in TG4’s re­cent teen se­ries Eipic, has Ir­ish pol­i­tics in his sights.

is about an at­tempt to get

Split Ends Europe Bren­dan Galileo for

elected to the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment by first en­ter­ing the Euro­vi­sion Song Con­test.

Ris­ing young act­ing tal­ent Sarah-Jane Scott has cre­ated a play about a young woman who, in the first mo­ment of clar­ity in her whole life, runs away from her own wed­ding. A funny tale of young love in ru­ral Ire­land and a life­long quest to set­tle down. So the women are writ­ing about hair­dressers and wed­dings, and the men are writ­ing about crime and pol­i­tics. What is this, 1950?

They run in from Sept 10–22.

Ap­pro­pri­ate, Theatre Bew­ley’s Café

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