Blackeyed Theatre to stage Nick Lane’s take on Frankenstein at Scarborough’s SJT

Yvette Stone’s puppet of The Creature for Blackeyed Theatre’s 2016 production of Frankenstein. Picture: Alex Harvey-Brown

NICK Lane’s adaptation of Frankenstein will be staged by Blackeyed Theatre at Scarborough’s Stephen Joseph Theatre from February 9 to 12 as part of a national tour.

South Yorkshire playwright Lane has reinterpreted John Ginman’s original 2016 script for the Bracknell touring company, built around Mary Shelley’s Gothic novel set in Geneva in 1816, where Victor Frankenstein obsesses in the pursuit of nature’s secret, the elixir of life itself.

Alas, nothing can prepare him for what he creates, and so begins a gripping life-or-death adventure taking him to the ends of the Earth and beyond.

Blackeyed Theatre’s highly theatrical telling combines live music and ensemble storytelling with Bunraku-style puppetry to portray The Creature. Designed and built by Warhorse and His Dark Materials alumna Yvonne Stone, the 6ft 4inch puppet is operated by up to three actors at any one time, adding a new dimension to the retelling of the Frankenstein story.

Playwright Nick Lane

Director Eliot Giuralarocca says: “For me, the beauty and excitement of theatre is that it’s live, unfolding in front of an audience as they watch, and the decision to make the creature a life-sized puppet – beautifully and painstakingly made by Yvonne Stone – seemed to fit perfectly with this approach.

“Frankenstein is obsessed with re-animating dead matter by finding the spark of creation, the ‘elixir of life’. We bring our creature to life theatrically, animating, manipulating and breathing life into the puppet right in front of the audience, and in doing so, I hope we present a lovely theatrical metaphor for the act of creation in the story itself and give audiences the chance to share in that creation.”

Victor Frankenstein will be played by Robert Bradley (Hedda Gabler, National Theatre, Joe Strummer Takes A Walk, Cervantes Theatre, Encounters With The Past, Hampton Court Palace). 

Max Gallagher (Brief Encounter, Watermill Newbury, War Horse, National Theatre, Richard III, Northern Broadsides) reprises the role of Henry Clerval, while Benedict Hastings(Wolf Hall, Royal Shakespeare Company, We’re Going On A Bear Hunt, Kenny Wax) plays Robert Walton.

“We bring our creature to life theatrically, animating, manipulating and breathing life into the puppet right in front of the audience, ” says Blackeyed Theatre director Eliot Giuralarocca. Picture: Alex Harvey-Brown

Billy Irving (War Horse Tenth Anniversary Tour, National Theatre) is chief puppeteer and the voice of The Creature; Rose Bruford graduate Alice E Mayer makes her professional stage debut as Elizabeth Lavenza.

Writer Nick Lane, whose SJT winter production of Jack And The Beanstalk can be watched online until January 31 via sjt.uk.com, was associate director and literary manager at Hull Truck Theatre from 2006 to 2014.

Director Eliot Giuralarocca and puppetry creator and director Yvonne Stone are joined in the Blackeyed Theatre production team by composer Ron McAllister, musical director Ellie Verkerk, set designer Victoria Spearing, costume designer Anne Thomson and lighting designer Alan Valentine (whereas the 2016 production was lit by Charlotte McClelland).

Frankenstein is produced by Blackeyed Theatre in association with South Hill Park Arts Centre, Bracknell, with support from Arts Council England.

Performances in The Round at the SJT start at 7.30pm on February 9; 1.30pm and 7.30pm, February 10; 7.30pm, February 11, and 2.30pm and 7.30pm, February 12. Box office: 01723 370541 or at sjt.uk.com.

Blackeyed Theatre’s Bunraku-style puppetry for The Creature in Frankenstein. Picture: Alex Harvey-Brown

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