South Hill Park

RG12 7PA

Interview with Blackeyed Theatre’s Adrian McDougall on Frankenstein

January 11, 2022

Associate Theatre Company Blackeyed Theatre bring a revival of their ‘masterfully constructed’ (The Stage) production of Frankenstein to the Wilde Theatre from Thu 27 – Sat 29 Jan. We had a chat with  Artistic Director Adrian McDougall to find out more about this exciting and thrilling production.

How do you approach bringing such a well-known piece of literature to the stage?

As Eliot, our director, would say, ‘with great care’. Some people will have read the novel. Many more will have seen a TV or movie version, so inevitably audiences have their own ideas of how the story should be told and, in particular, how the Creature should be portrayed. So we’re careful to anchor everything we do in the source material. The greatest challenge – apart from the Creature of course – is how to put such an epic, sprawling tale on stage. It’s a story that spans decades and continents. Packing it into 2 hours of theatre is a huge challenge, but one that lends itself to the pure theatrical storytelling we’ve become known for!

What’s different about this production of Frankenstein compared to others audiences may have seen?

The Creature. Yvonne Stone, who’s worked on War Horse, created an astonishing 6’ 4” Bunraku puppet, which is – rather aptly – brought to life by the actors. It’s a concept we felt lent itself perfectly to the idea of breathing life into something inanimate, which is what Frankenstein does in the story of course. Our challenge is to make audiences ‘care’ for the Creature. We have an incredibly talented group of actors who are also very skilled puppeteers, and it’s amazing to see them breathe life into the puppet.

Who is your favourite character and why?

I’m not sure I have a favourite character. But in terms of the play, I have a favourite moment. The first time the Creature is brought to life (sorry, bit of a spoiler) is wonderful and for me what theatre is all about.

What can audiences look forward to in this production?

Where do I start… It’s a universal story that has everything. It’s exciting, scary, moving and thought-provoking. It’s a love story with a big helping of science-fiction and horror. It’s brought to life by an incredibly talented cast of five who tell Mary Shelley’s timeless tale while also creating a soundtrack live on stage. We even have timpani drums! It’s also worth mentioning that it’s a production that has its roots well and truly in Bracknell. Victoria Spearing (Set Design), Alan Valentine (Lighting Design), Ron McAllister (Composer) and Anne Thompson (Costume Design) have all played a part in many of South Hill Park’s own productions over the last decade. It’s a cracking script by Nick Lane, based on John Ginman’s original adaptation, and it’s directed by Eliot Giuralarocca, who directed our previous productions Dracula, Not About Heroes and The Great Gatsby. It’s endlessly creative and unashamedly theatrical, and after the last couple of years, it’s precisely what audiences need!