A musical adaptation of the story of Doctor Frankenstein and the monster. Featuring a plenitude of actors and some great music, the show could be labeled as a thriller. An ironic thriller to be exact.
The script of the play is based on the famous novel by Mary Shelley published in 1818. The genuine idea, however, originated two years earlier, at Lake Geneva in Switzerland.
The year of 1816 was recorded in the annals of meteorology as “the year without summer”. The reason behind such dreadful weather was an eruption of Mount Tambora, a volcano in Indonesia, which occurred in April that year. Already in May the days grew dark, cold and cloudy; the rain just kept coming.
No wonder then Mary Shelley, along with her husband and a group of their friends, including Lord Byron and John Polidori, spent most of their holidays in Switzerland sitting at home. On a certain night, trying to get away from boredom, they decided to hold a competition to see who could come up with the most scary story. That was the night Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein came to being.
It is believed that Mary Shelley was inspired by a gruesome story about undertakers from the town of Frankenstein (known today as Zabkowice Slaskie, Poland), a story that was quite popular in Europe at that time. This could at least explain the etymology of the title.
Mary Shelley’s book has never ceased to inspire writers, poets and filmmakers. There are countless works that try to tell the same story or reinterpret it in a thousand different ways. The most famous one, however, is the movie made in 1931, with Boris Karloff as the monster. The musical staged in Capitol follows exactly the aesthetics employed in that particular picture.
The script of the play, however, is somewhat different from the original story, much as the main storyline has been preserved. The list of modifications includes character building, dialogues, themes and plot threads.
Wojciech Koscielniak, the author of the script and director of the play:
’Above all, Frankenstein is about toying with a horror show, the terrifying, German Expressionism, the cinematography of old, and the stereotype of a comic book. It is a dialogue with kitsch, clichés and cheap narrative tricks. A game of death and murder. It is about taming and making death harmless, but also about showing respect to it, paying homage even. I take this story of a monster created by one crazy scientist as a myth about a man who became overwhelmed with his very own disappointment toward the existing order of things. It is a story of a boastful man who more than anything believed he was a genius. That belief of his turned out to be a powerful force, both creative and destructive.’
‘Koscielniak’s Frankenstein is a wonderful theatrical playground. A masterfully planned game of artistic conventions.’ Grzegorz Chojnowski, Radio Wroclaw
’Koscielniak manages to strike the perfect balance between reflecting upon the condition of this modern world, overshadowed with fear and uncertainty, and providing the audience with entertainment.’ Magda Piekarska, Gazeta Wyborcza Wroclaw
‘A nightmare through and through, the play still delivers much more fun and laughter than fear. Frankenstein was supposed to give us entertainment. And it does. Totally.’ Marcin Szewczyk at the Dla Studenta website
’An epic combination of a musical, a horror show and a comedy. I don’t think we have ever witnessed anything quite like that here in Wroclaw.’ Jakub Kasperkiewicz, Kontrast (a magazine for students)
‘This show should owe its success to a great cast and interesting music works composed by Piotr Dziubek. It's been a long time since I got so intrigued by music employed in a musical.’
Agnieszka Serlikowska, Nowa Sila Krytyczna
’Costumes fitting for the occasion, make-up just as ghastly as it should be, splendid choreography and a stark stage scenery relying on vivid videos; all this translates into a very successful theatrical performance.’ Mariusz Urbanek, Kulturozerca (a blog at the Wroclove 2012 website)
‘On the one hand, it is an unbridled fantasy about a theme that has grown to be a great pop-cultural myth, on the other it is a staged treatise on the anatomy of horror aesthetics, its most basic tools and pastiche-like transformations. Koscielniak’s Frankenstein can be read like a palimpsest that comprises layers of genre clichés and inspirations coming from the history of horror movies, from James Whale’s 1931 Frankenstein, via Mel Brooks's parodies, to Tim Burton’s animated variations on the horror genre. It can also be interpreted as a subversive analysis of kitsch or a Polish version of The Rocky Horror Show. Frankenstein, meaning everyman.’ Jolanta Kowalska, Teatra Szajner
PHOTO © MARCIN WEGNER / TEATR MUZYCZNY CAPITOL