Monster
Reviewed by David Kashimba
Photo by Jessica Hobbs

San Francisco’s The Playhouse presents Monster by Neal Bell. Based on Mary Shelley’s classic novel Frankenstein, Bell preserves much of the literary quality of Shelley’s novel, but adds some dark and light humor, which modernizes its flavor. An example is when one of the characters tells Dr. Frankenstein that he could have given his monster “better teeth.” There are also some interesting transgender moments.

But perhaps the best modern tie was the one Shelley wrote in 1817 – science’s responsibility when experimenting with human life no matter how altruistic their motives are. When Frankenstein set out to create a living human being from recently deceased body parts, he was trying to improve human life just as our scientists of today are through cloning and stem cell research.

The most powerful message given by Shelley and echoed in Monster is the relationship between the creator and his creation. A creator who abandons his creation opens a dark door to evil whereas a creator that takes an interest in and nurtures his creation is rewarded with a more positive outcome.

An added pleasure to this production is a very versatile set design by Steven Coleman, which blends beautifully with the stunning visual effects by John Behrens. There are times where you actually feel like you’re floating on a large hunk of ice near the North Pole or searching for body parts at a cemetery.

For tickets or more information call (415) 677-9596 or email: reservations@sfplayhouse.org.

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