‘Frankenstein and I’ // Brisbane Sci-Fi Theatre Festival

‘Frankenstein and I’ was spellbinding.

The Norman Price Theatre was bathed in purple light as audiences made their way to their seats. As you inspected the space, you noticed a lady sitting centre stage writing slowly in her tattered notebook, with a window projected onto the draped sheet behind her. This scene prepared a show that was visually stunning from start to finish.

‘Frankenstein and I’ followed the intersecting stories of Victor Frankenstein and his creator, Mary Shelley, with dazzling clarity. Each actor took turns reciting monologues of their inner consciousness – one told the harrowing story of a woman who lost her children, lost her name as the author of Frankenstein and endured a tumultuous life; while in alternating moments, the audience was told the story of Frankenstein and his monster, following the exact narrative of Mary Shelley’s famous book.

The production was almost autobiographical in nature and audience members, who may not have been familiar with either storyline before entering the theatre, were able to leave with a deeper understanding of both the writer and her creation.

Amy Hauser (Mary Shelley) and Peter Keavy (Victor Frankenstein/Percy/Monster) took audiences through the traumatic lives of both characters with commitment and emotional intent. Both actors were required to show extreme emotional vulnerability and, in most aspects, delivered. The opening of the show by Amy Hauser was extremely powerful, she sucked the audience in from the beginning with her expression and emotional commitment.

Hauser may have furthered her character development had she explored moments of light and shade through her performance. While she reached the extremities of human emotion during the production, it was rare for lines to be delivered with the quiet vulnerability that would have rounded out Shelley. This may have given the audience more of a chance to breath and made the emotional climaxes more effective.

Peter Keavy delivered a nuanced and believable performance as Victor Frankenstein, Percy, and The Monster. Keavy acted through his whole body and delivered incredible moments of physicality that punctuated his monologues. He also found moments of comedy in an otherwise distressing story, making audiences connect to the characters he was portraying.

The lighting and soundscape of the show were highlights of the entire evening. The centre stage sheet structure allowed for visually engaging shadow work and both actors navigated this extra element with great skill. The shadow screen never distracted audiences but rather was key in furthering the story being told on stage.

The lighting plot was incredibly effective in distinguishing the creator from her creation. Directional light was almost exclusively used, which served the dual purpose of making the separate monologues visually engaging, and also assisted the audience’s understanding that the two characters never shared the same space or time. The stunning lighting, soundscape and set design captivated audiences and were crucial to the success of the play.

A particularly magical moment was when Keavy transformed into Frankenstein’s monster. A blue downlight projected onto his head, creating monstrous shadows on his face. This, coupled with his physicality, created Frankenstein’s monster on the stage. An effective soundscape also filled the theatre with sweeping instrumental music, which assisted in heightening the mood and creating momentum and movement in an otherwise static set.

It’s a hard task working with this popular subject matter, which is often cited in many plays, musicals, books, shows and documentaries. Finding a new angle and a way to intrigue audiences is a challenge for any creative. While the performance was emotionally powerful, there was an opportunity for the text and plot points to be more dynamic. Keavy and Hauser, who had also written the script, could have played with the monster within Mary Shelley’s consciousness more, especially as she navigated her tumultuous life.

Overall, ‘Frankenstein and I’ delivered a performance that was raw, poignant, visually engaging and creatively presented. As a whole, the production provided a glimpse into what it means to be a human, and what it takes to be a monster.

The Brisbane Sci-Fi Theatre Festival is an annual event supported by TAFE Queensland. To learn more about the festival, visit

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