frankenstien webSince novelist Mary Shelley first wrote Frankenstein almost 200 years ago, the chilling story has undergone more than 100 successful adaptations across literature, film and stage.

But British playwright Nick Dear’s adaptation, premiering in Sydney with a local cast later this month, may be the first to present an intelligent, articulate Frankenstein’s Monster (or ‘Creature’, as he’s referred to in this production).

Dear’s reimagining otherwise follows the traditional story closely: the Creature (Lee Jones) is cast out by his creator, the young doctor Frankenstein (Andrew Henry), and unleashed upon the world. He’s shunned for his grotesque appearance, spurned wherever he goes.

The Star Observer spoke to Jones, who admitted taking on such an iconic role was a daunting task.

“I was completely terrified about the role at first. The thing about this Creature is that he becomes quite articulate,” he said.

“That’s something people don’t expect; they see the films and they see a grunting, dumb creature. The great thing about this play is it does give the creature a voice, and it’s a very articulate and rational voice.”

When a blind man (Michael Ross) takes Frankenstein’s creation under his wing and educates him, the Creature begins to question his existence and to yearn for a future without loneliness.

“The play starts with the creature being born on stage, and from there he evolves quite quickly, learning to speak on stage. It’s a real challenge as an actor – I start at zero on stage every night and I get to grow from there.”

The Creature’s search for a partner eventually leads him back to his maker with a taste for vengeance.

“The thing is, he can justify all of his actions,” Jones said.

“He thinks, ‘If I’m treated badly, why should I be any different myself?’ We definitely humanise the monster: he’s an outcast and he’s treated badly because he’s different.”

Jones said he thought LGBTI audiences should be particularly moved by the creature’s plight, with its allusions to the queer experience.

“It’s a story that, at its core, is about prejudice and being different. The creature has a line: ‘I am different, I know I am different, I’ve tried to be the same, why can I not be who I am?’

“It’s also all about how you treat other people – what happens to people when there’s a severe lack of love in their life. It’s really about the search for love, at it’s core.”

Jones’ looks are more suited to a leading man than a lumbering monster, so playing the Creature requires a nightly transformation for the actor.

“A lot of it has to do with finding the physicality and finding the voice, and on top of that, there’s quite a physical transformation that’s yet to be worked out. I’m getting home at the end of each rehearsal just shattered – I can barely remember my own name.”

INFO: Frankenstein, Sydney Opera House March 27-April 13, Ensemble Theatre April 17-May 4.   •  sydneyoperahouse.com and ensemble.com.au

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PRESS PLAY: Go behind the scenes and preview Frankenstein, below

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