Remy Bumppo builds a stunning new Frankenstein | Theater Review | Chicago Reader

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Remy Bumppo builds a stunning new Frankenstein

There's not even a hint of Boris Karloff.

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Remy Bumppo Theatre Company presents Nick Dear's stunning minimalist reimagining of Mary Shelley's classic fable about male hubris. From the opening pantomimed vignettes of the monster's birth to his chilly arctic duel with his maker at the end, this production has forged a brand-new Frankenstein.

The entire tale is told from the creature's point of view. This has the effect of making an inherently sympathetic monster even more so, and it lays bare the arrogance of the doctor in the starkest terms. Revisiting a story of a man playing God at a time when scientists are experimenting with intuitive, sentient AI technology and the like couldn't be more timely. And the extent to which people can lose perspective when they're obsessing over their work is highlighted cleverly when the doctor's fiancee points out to him that his quest to create a man in his own image could have been accomplished in a much more traditional manner.

Everything from the spare stage set to the dance-like movements of the actors to the jarring lighting and expressionist makeup contributes to a complete renewal of a story most of us think we know everything about. There's not even a hint of Boris Karloff here. On the night I saw the play, Greg Matthew Anderson was the creature and Nick Sandys the doctor, but they swap roles throughout the run of the production. This is added incentive to see this unforgettable show more than once, though I would have been happy if it played again exactly the same way as soon as it ended. Ian Frank directed.   v

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