Mary Shelley’s ‘ghost story’ Frankenstein; Or, The Modern Prometheus was written to express her disquiet at the rapid advances of the Industrial Revolution, and at apparently uncontrolled advances in experimental science. The story has since been reworked for stage and screen scores of times, the latest being Nick Dear’s adaptation at the National Theatre.
I have a personal interest in this production as Abbey Wright, who directed Hidden Glory, is working on it as Staff Director (assisting the Director, Danny Boyle). I bought tickets early, and chose to go to one of the preview performances rather than waiting until after the press nights.
Hundreds of bloggers have reviewed the previews, not always fairly as it is a complex production and the whole point of previews is to iron out the gremlins. I don’t propose here to offer a full review of the performance I saw last night. Let’s just say that I’m very glad to have seen it, and if you’ve got tickets (the rest of the run is sold out) you can continue to feel smug about it.
What I will say is that in Dear and Boyle’s production the role of science is almost incidental to the moral tension between Victor Frankenstein and his ‘Creature’: it simply provides the set-up for a relationship in which power betrays and ultimately corrupts innocence.
Hubris is a concept as old as civilisation. Science may be the means by which Victor makes his fatal bid for immortality, but for the Frankensteins of today, politics, money or warfare can do the job just as well.