The Northern Echo
Frankenstein Live by Tom NeedhamGeorgian Theatre Royal Richmond
Forget Boris Karloff with a bolt through his neck. In fact, forget you've ever heard of Frankenstein
and prepare to experience an existential narrative that wrestles with man's fear of abandonment.
Based on the classic myth by Mary Shelley, this startling new adaptation is written specially for Angus and Ross Theatre Company by BAFTA nominated writer Tom Needham whose TV credits include: Cold Blood, Silent Witness, Dalziel & Pascoe. Needham penetrates the psyche of both creator and creation using beautifully-crafted dialogue that breaths new life into both characters.
Dominic Goodwin handles the monster with a superbly gentle brutishness and we feel the depth of his sadness as he is abandoned by his master; thrown away as an ugly experimental mistake. Craving human attention the monster eventually makes an ultimately flawed deal with Dr. Frankenstein to make him a companion; a woman who he can love and protect. Emanuel Brierley summons the good and the evil in his energetic portrayal of the tortured Scientist, bearing the heavy burden of guilt after his creation has killed those most dear to him.
This first-class two-hander is created in partnership with Georgian Theatre Royal, Richmond, under the thoughtful direction of Em Whitfield Brooks. It's home grown, organic, brave and unmissable. I certainly wasn't expecting to come home feeling compassion for a monster. Perhaps Frankenstein's creation isn't a monster after all, maybe he's just a sensitive creature, born in a story, not that different from the Adam and Eve saga.
An extensive UK tour includes: March York Theatre Royal; 10 May Alnwick Playhouse, 13 May Potto Village Hall, Northallerton. For more dates and details, go to www.angusandrosstheatre.co.uk
"At the National Theatre, Danny Boyle's Frankenstein, adapted by Nick Dear, eschews the excesses of Hammer
Horror in favour of the issues in the original Mary Shelley story.
The North Yorkshire-based Angus and Ross Theatre Company's new two-hander has a similar but more focused approach. It is concerned with power, responsibility and love and carries some of Shelley's political bite.
Frankenstein Live is adapted by the television writer Tom Needham and has Dominic Goodwin as the Creature and Emanuel Brierley as his creator Dr Frankenstein. The two actors are well used to working together, having previously appeared in Not About Heroes for Angus And Ross and in productions elsewhere.
There is an impressively judged atmosphere of dread throughout, with no suggestion of bathos or unintentional parody. The largely present tense narrative from both actors ensures vivid action and stark soul-searching. Tall, white boards placed in echelon on a bare stage make for startling appearances.
Goodwin's Creature is angry and bitter, lacking guidance and love. When he kills, the guilt is Frankenstein's. The doctor turns to remorse and regret and the pair reach a sort of redemption.
This is a well-crafted production, born of intelligent, measured acting and a collective artistic belief. That the Georgian Theatre Royal, a small theatre in a Yorkshire market town, feels able to be involved in a co-production on a national tour is a cause for rejoicing".
By Tom Needham
Featuring Emanuel Brierley and Dominic Goodwin
Directed by Em Whitfield Brooks
Is a monster born or made? Where does our responsibility really lie? Based on the classic horror story by-- Mary Shelley, this gripping new adaptation explores the extraordinary attachment between Dr Frankenstein and his Creation; a bond, they both grow to realise, that only death can break. Produced in partnership with - and embarking on a national tour from - The Georgian Theatre Royal Richmond, this electric two-hander was written specially for the company by BAFTA nominated writer Tom Needham whose TV credits include: Cold Blood, Silent Witness, Dalziel & Pascoe. Theatre work includes: The Wreckers and Wont be Long.
This tour has been generously supported by Arts Council England
We are extremely proud of the piece we have created, the audiences we have reached, the workshops we have led, the contacts we have made and the position we now occupy - we are in a stronger place than before this tour, more widely known, in cities as well as rural venues, with good feedback and promoter support under our belts, eager to work towards future touring projects that will develop us further as a company.
Tom Needham has been a successful scriptwriter for many years. He's written more episodes of The Bill than anyone else in the history of the programme. He wrote their first ever live episode in 2003, and his episode Die By The Sword was nominated for this year's 2010 BAFTA Award for Best Continuing Drama. His other credits include Silent Witness, Casualty, Trainer, Howards' Way, Virtual Murder, Wycliffe, Dalziel & Pascoe, Dangerfield, Retrace, Emmerdale, and all five episodes of Cold Blood (starring Matthew Kelly, John Hannah and Jemma Redgrave). His plays include a ghost story for Clap Trap Productions The Wreckers, and a children's play Won't Be Long.
In terms of his own development, Tom was keen to work with us:
"I have been writing for television for over twenty years. Sometimes more than 10 million people will watch a single episode of the 95 or so episodes I've had broadcast on the BBC and ITV. Even ignoring countless repeats in this and other countries, the total number of viewers runs to hundreds of millions. And yet, I have no connection with any of them so I have no idea whether people like my work...whether they laugh at my jokes, are ever moved to tears, or even have a clue what's going on. Hopefully they do, but in theatre you know in an instant, and it's been a most extraordinary experience for me finally to witness a reaction to my work -- the response from a live audience soon tells you where any weaknesses lie or whether you've hit the right note. Writing plays is relatively new to me, but the experience of readthroughs, rehearsals and performance has taught me a great deal more about writing and I hope my television work has improved as a result. I still feel I've a lot more to learn which is why, for me, this opportunity to work on another theatre piece has been so greatly appreciated."