STAGE REVIEW: Frankenstein at the Festival Theatre, Malvern, from Monday, January 13 to, Saturday, January 18, 2020.

THIS is more tongue-in-cheek than sheer outright horror regarding the bolt of lightning arrival of the ‘creature’.

Here neither Frankenstein, nor his monstrous creation, figure right at the epicentre of this world-famous Gothic tale.

Instead it’s Mary Shelley, the authoress, jokey on occasions - who is on stage in tandem with the fiction.

It’s Shelley’s story alright but creative writer Rona Munro spins a tale of a parallel world.

She pays homage to the real-life tale of how Shelley dreaed up events at the age of 18 to win a wager with Lord Byron and Percy Bysshe Shelley.

Two years later, in 1818, it was published.

Munro has the authoress, played by Eilidh Loan, as a fiercely driven woman, often plucking a pencil from the bun at the back of her head to scribble manically whenever ideas provoked sheer inspiration.

Her mind was the conduit through which everything flowed, much like the Monster’s hopes of finding love and not anger or resentment.

Becky Minto has provided a superb white and grey set, with darkened tree branches, which served it’s dual purpose well as first jagged lightning flashed across the sky and smashing ice caused by a North Pole exploratory vessel helped to create an edgy atmosphere which was also there when the set became the Frankenstein family home.

It threatened to be tense but didn't quite deliver.

Shelley’s appearance as part of the plot doesn’t actually add to the horror and drama, but Loan ensures she provokes a steely determination.

Michael Moreland’s monster provides the right amount of threat to human life. No need here for a bolt in the neck or big rolling eyes. Simply lurking in the shadows is terrifying enough as he threatened the lives of loved ones.

And Ben Castle-Gibb, for whom the tour is his stage debut, clearly illustrated as Victor Frankenstein rued his ‘body experiment’, there could be a bright future ahead.

However, no alarming drama or high tension here and all quite predictable although it’s an inventive take on the original. If there is a strong criticism it’s the sound quality which was difficult to always pick up clearly with some of the feminine voices too soft. Easy to overcome…

Shelley saw the story in her sleep before she wrote it. That was surely what nightmares are made of!

It’s all about creation and the moral responsibility of purpose and to what end it is used. But for certain it will surely provide newer and younger theatre-goers with food for thought of matters on either side of the sexual divide.