Frankenstein's Wake | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

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Frankenstein's Wake


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FRANKENSTEIN'S WAKE, Theatre Labyrinth, at Link's Hall. In designing their ritualistic exploration of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, Cleveland performer Holly Holsinger and director Raymond Bobgan display an exquisite visual sense. They've transformed the bare-bones Link's Hall space into a funereal surgical theater, with two long rows of chairs facing each other shrouded in white. Between them stand two massive, rough-hewn tables that look as though they've been built to support the weight of a giant. Four towering trees of lights illuminate the space, bare bulbs poised at the ends of twisting, snake-neck cables; it's as though a dozen startled, leering eyes were watching our every move.

The simplicity and precision of the set stand in marked contrast to Holsinger's muddled, unsettled performance, however. Retelling Shelley's tale she adopts several personae, including Dr. Frankenstein, his created "daemon," and a mysterious narrator who speaks in rhyming couplets. Unfortunately they're indistinguishable: each is caught up in a frantic swoon. Holsinger sustains such a state of wide-eyed, hyperventilating frenzy--giving the audience hardly a glance--that the text becomes largely impenetrable. This one-note, one-speed approach transforms Shelley's dense psychological work into an unfortunate caricature of a Saturday afternoon mad-scientist movie. --Justin Hayford

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