Based on Mary Shelleys hugely famous novel, the play Frankenstein will be the first HD broadcast hosted by the Douglass Theatre in 2014. The play, the work of Nick Dear, is the most recent of innumerable dramatizations of Shelleys work, and the 2011 production from Britains National Theatre is returning to cinemas as part of the NTs 50th anniversary Encore Screenings.
While the term Frankenstein is misused in all sorts of ways today, Shelleys novel is as much a philosophical work as it is the tale of a monster run amok. While the earlier dramatizations are said to limit The Creature, as he is called, to animal-like utterances, in Shelleys novel he speaks eloquently about his plight, and Dear has preserved this tradition.
Those readers who have not studied 19th century English literature may appreciate a bit of background. In one of the most famous house parties in literary history, the 18-year-old Mary Godwin (who later became Mary Shelley) was summering on Lake Geneva with the poet Percy Shelley, who at that time was still married to Harriet Shelley. With them, among others, were her step-sister Claire Clairemont and her lover, the famous Lord Byron.
One evening, three of the group agreed to each write a novel based on the supernatural. Out of this exercise came Frankenstein. Mary, of course, as the daughter of William Godwin and Mary Wollstonecraft (The Rights of Women) had talent in her genes. This also was a time when intellectuals were concerned with natural philosophy, human rights and the source of the vital spark that creates human life. The idea that a scientist could create a man was very much a product of the age.
The 2011 NT production of this classic tale received splendid reviews in 2011, so the Encore broadcast will undoubtedly be a hit at the Douglass in 2014.
When: 3 p.m. Jan. 5
Where: Douglass Theatre, 355 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
Cost: $20 adults, $15 students and seniors