Review: Frankenstein, Derby Theatre

Picture by Tommy Ga-Ken Wan


Forget Boris Karloff’s 1930s Frankenstein Monster or any inkling of Christopher Lee. Don’t imagine those stitches on Robert De Niro in The Creation or even the nuts and bolts adorning Herman Munster. 

The monster created by director Patricia Benecke for Rona Munro’s adaptation of Mary Shelley’s classic is well, not that horrifying, which I admit I found a little disappointing. I wanted my blood to run cold but it just didn’t.

This wasn’t the fault of Munro. She says in the programme of the play, which can be seen at Derby Theatre this week, that she wants to terrify us and I think with a change of pace and a more scary monster, this cleverly conceived reworking of Frankenstein could do just that. But as it was it seemed rambling, yet rushed, lacking in any real tension.

It was clear that Munro wanted to put Shelley, played by Eilidh Loan, at the centre  of her story and depict her for the woman she was – a sassy, intense, feminist who outsmarted the men in a competition to write the best spooky tale.

She reveals Shelley in the making of her debut novel – continually interrupting the narrative giving her own commentary on what is happening – an intriguing idea and one I was looking forward to experiencing. 

The writing has the potential to promote feminism and Frankenstein, as a ghost story that doubles as a morality tale about unrestrained science, to a whole new audience, but this production simply needed much more dynamism.

The backstage creative team did a great job though. Becky Minto’s glacially white two-tiered set, had a fantastic dream-like quality with bare tree branches that doubled as ladders to the balconies– simple yet effective.

While grant Anderson’s lighting  and the sound by Simon Slater were  perfect for a horror story – cue claps of thunder and flashes of lightning.

If you are interested in the real Mary Shelley then this is well worth seeing but don’t expect to be unsettled by the content.

The rest of the cast were Ben Castle Gibb as Frankenstein, Michael Moreland, the Monster, Thierry Mabonga as Henry, Natali Mccleary as Elizabeth, Sarah Macgillivray as the mother and Greg Powrie as the father.

Frankenstein is a Selladoor Productions show with Matthew Townshend Productions, Belgrade Theatre Coventry and Perth Theatre at Horsecross Arts. It can be seen at Derby Theatre until Saturday. For tickets go to