Cen­tre­point’s com­plex clas­sic

The Tribune (NZ) - - COMMUNITY -

The story may be hor­rific but the show will be ter­rific.

Franken­stein, the big­gest pro­duc­tion of Cen­tre­point Theatre’s 41-year history, will see two of New Zealand’s most no­table tele­vi­sion stars col­lab­o­rate with more than 20 bud­ding ac­tors from the Manawatu com­mu­nity.

Led by artis­tic di­rec­tor Jeff Kings­ford-Brown, the show will be staged at Cen­tre­point from Au­gust 8 to 29 and fea­tures Chris Tem­pest (Short­land Street) as Dr Vic­tor Franken­stein pit­ted against Kar­los Drinkwa­ter ( Spar­ta­cus: Blood and Sand, Short­land Street) as the in­fa­mous crea­ture.

‘‘The cast is enor­mous and we’re throw­ing a lot into this. The whole theatre has been taken apart and put back to­gether in a dif­fer­ent shape. There’s live mu­sic and, be­ing so in­ter­ac­tive, it’s a com­plex show,’’ says Jeff.

The story fol­lows Franken­stein’s be­wil­dered crea­ture, child­like in his in­no­cence but grotesque in form, who is cast out into a hos­tile uni­verse by his hor­ror-struck maker. Met with cru­elty wher­ever he goes, the friend­less crea­ture, in­creas­ingly des­per­ate and venge­ful, de­ter­mines to track down his cre­ator and strike a ter­ri­fy­ing deal.

Kar­los says the themes within the thrilling and deeply dis­turb­ing clas­sic gothic tale drew him to the role, in­clud­ing ur­gent con­cerns of sci­en­tific re­spon­si­bil­ity, parental ne­glect, cog­ni­tive de­vel­op­ment and the na­ture of good and evil.

‘‘The way we re­lay these ideas to the au­di­ence is, for me, the in­ter­est­ing part. De­spite it be­ing a clas­sic story, to­day’s tech­nol­ogy tin­ker­ing with cloning and ar­ti­fi­cial in­sem­i­na­tion – even ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence – keeps this ver­sion rel­e­vant to a con­tem­po­rary au­di­ence,’’ he says.

Na­tional Theatre’s pro­duc­tion of the play, which starred Bene­dict Cum­ber­batch from TV’s Sher­lock, was a hit in 2011, and Na­tional Theatre Live’s broad­cast has be­come an in­ter­na­tional sen­sa­tion, ex­pe­ri­enced by al­most half a mil­lion peo­ple in cine­mas around the world.

Chris cred­its the pro­duc­tion’s pop­u­lar­ity to its dark yet funny script that car­ries with it big char­ac­ters with strong mo­tives and dan­ger­ous con­se­quences.

‘‘When I read it, it was very vis­ceral – it all played out so clearly in my head. It’s a fan­tas­tic play,’’ he says.

More than 30 peo­ple from the com­mu­nity au­di­tioned for the show and about half were cast. In ad­di­tion, the show fea­tures an ensem­ble played by Cen­tre­point’s Base­ment Com­pany, a theatre train­ing pro­gramme for Manawatu youth which high school stu­dents au­di­tion for at the start of each year.

Jeff says the show pro­vides a valu­able op­por­tu­nity for com­mu­nity ac­tors to be part of a pro­fes­sional pro­duc­tion where hours of work have gone into ev­ery el­e­ment.

‘‘If the stan­dard we ap­ply to the show in terms of set, light­ing and cos­tume are as high as they can be then that gives them a plat­form to do their best work. We’re def­i­nitely see­ing that.’’

Work­shops by ac­tor Car­rie Green, for­merly from Manawatu, and Base­ment Com­pany di­rec­tor Craig Geenty were held dur­ing the first week of re­hearsals.

Move­ment chore­og­ra­pher and dancer Luke Hanna also pro­vided use­ful train­ing for the ensem­ble.

‘‘Part of the ra­tio­nale be­hind Franken­stein is that we learn how to do things in a slightly dif­fer­ent way, and hope­fully up­skill our com­mu­nity ac­tors in the process,’’ says Jeff.

The au­di­ence will sur­round a cir­cu­lar set, de­signed by Theo Wi­jnsma, and walk­ways ev­ery­where mean they’ll also be part of the ac­tion.

Light­ing and ef­fects by Mar­cus McShane will have equal im­pact.

‘‘There are a lot of dark corners and un­seen bits of the set that re­veal them­selves as the play goes on,’’ Jeff says. ‘‘Ev­ery­thing looks re­ally stun­ning.’’

Book online or call 354 5740.

Kar­los Drinkwa­ter as the Crea­ture from Cen­tre­point’s pro­duc­tion of Franken­stein.

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