Dr. Frankenstein: A Review by John Van de Ven

What is it that connects both life and death? Is it a heartbeat or an impulse from the brain? Or is it something dark and frightening? Whatever it is, Victoria Frankenstein is determined to find out, no matter the cost.

Victoria Frankenstein (played by Skyler Gahley) is the eldest of her siblings and is about to start medical school. She hopes to learn about life and death with the agenda of bringing something dead back to life.

Victoria’s family (Nikolai “Niko” Mell plays Henry Clerval, Erin Sullivan plays Elizabeth Lavenza Frankenstein, Kayleah Lewis plays Justine Moritz, James “Jim” Snowden plays Victoria's father and Vera Werre plays Mary) start to worry about her soon after she goes away to school. She hasn’t written to them in months, and when we see her we find that she’s been working tirelessly on her research. Performing experiments on dead rabbits and a cadaver kept on ice, something dark and troubling is going on.

One evening, as Victoria lays down to sleep she’s interrupted by a disturbance in her lab. Startled and frightened she discovers a monstrous figure (Frankenstein's monster played by Phillip Keiman) standing in front of her staring her down. As she realizes what’s happened, she tries to understand what’s going on and while examining her creation it attacks her and runs away. Victoria is left injured sand hospitalized following the attack and has to return home for a while.

This retelling of the gothic literary classic changes a few details from the original, while still remaining faithful to Mary Shelley’s masterpiece. Victoria Frankenstein fills the role of the protagonist, traditionally written and performed as a male character, which is the only noticeable change.

The set (by Albie Clementi, props by Cyndi Baumgardner) mimics the early 1800's setting the story takes place in. Everything from the Frankenstein’s living room to Victoria’s college home has a very gothic feel to it, giving the show its dark tone.

The costumes (by Rochelle-Ann Graham) are period appropriate and help establish the gothic themes. Skyler Gahley is excellent as the smart, confident and troubled Victoria Frankenstein and Phillip Keiman’s performance as the iconic monster is haunting and terrifying.

Lighting (by Rob Falk) and sound (by Eric Dickman) is done extremely well, every line of dialog is heard clearly and every action performed on stage is obvious and visible, while dimming at appropriate moments to set mood and tone.

This version of the timeless tale has already seen a successful run in London and the Burien Actors Theatre (stage direction by Beau M.K. Pritchard and Barbara Cawley) is only the second US production so make sure to come see a unique version of Mary Shelley’s classic novel.

Dr. Frankenstein is meant for a more mature audience, so parents be aware and use your discretion, some of the show might be too scary for little ones.

Dr. Frankenstein is showing at the Burien Actors Theatre from Oct. 5th through Oct. 28th. Show times begin at 8 PM Friday and Saturday evening, and 2 PM on Sundays. The BAT is located at 14501 4th Avenue SW in Burien. Tickets are $10 for students, $17 for seniors and $20 for everyone else.

The Burien Actors Theatre has been performing shows in the Puget Sound area for over 35 years, and is a non-profit 501(c)(3) entity that relies heavily on ticket revenue, donations and volunteer help.

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