Mary Shelley’s beloved modern myth is recharged for the 2020s in this “breathtaking and terrifying” (NPR) new adaptation. As large language models like ChatGPT and burgeoning artificial intelligence begin to radically reshape society, Shelley’s cautionary tale of unbridled innovation is more vital than ever. In this “visually enthralling” and “thrillingly realized” multi-media play (LA TIMES), an ensemble of actor/musicians enact Shelley’s story as their bodies, voices, and instruments are gradually replaced by an evolving spectrum of technologies, “conveying the all-encompassing dread of a future mankind has created in its own image” (LA BLADE).
FRANKENSTEIN had its sold-out season at the Wallis interrupted by the COVID-19 lockdown, but went on to collect a record 11 Ovation Awards. The production’s themes of digitally mediated isolation, systemic injustice, and the battle between nature and technology have only grown more resonant since.
This adaptation places Mary Shelley as a character on stage, lending her own prophetic voice to the narrative accounts of her two protagonists, looming over history alongside her ‘monstrous progeny.’ Her tale of unregulated innovation and its unintended consequences is grafted across the two centuries that have transpired since the novel’s first publication, hurtling through history to meet a monster of our own making.
PROLOGUE: As Captain Walton charts a new course through the Arctic, he sings of glory, conquest, and dominion over nature. He encounters a frozen stranger (Mary Shelley as Victor Frankenstein) who begins to tell his story as a warning to the ambitious young Captain.
Part One | VICTOR FRANKENSTEIN: Frankenstein recounts an idyllic childhood interrupted by an early encounter with grief. This propels him to the frontier of scientific discovery as he attempts to conquer mortality and defy the limits of nature. He recklessly constructs a creature from the human refuse of his experiments and electrically charges his monstrous creation to life.
Part Two | A CREATURE WITH NO NAME: Frankenstein’s Creature picks up the narrative and recounts his own biography, from the initial rejection by his horrified creator. He stumbles out of the laboratory without language or guidance, inciting fear and repulsion in all he encounters. As he moves outside of the chaotic city, he finds comfort in nature and begins to make sense of the world.
Part Three | FAMILY: The Creature peers in on a destitute Family through a hole in the wall, and carefully assimilates their language and customs. He learns the mechanics of western civilization, aghast at its injustices and inequalities. He uses his uber-human strength to become the family’s secret benefactor. As he listens to their professions of humility and tolerance, he imagines that they might be able to accept him in spite of his wretched appearance. But when he finds the courage to make himself known they reject him violently.
Part Four | CREATOR: The tormented and enraged Creature becomes a nightmarish force of destruction, and tracks down his neglectful creator. He demands Frankenstein create a companion for him. Mary (the author), Frankenstein (the creator), and the Creature together begin to imagine and assemble a Female Creature, who might push even further past the boundaries of science and technology. But as they confront the enormity of her potential, Frankenstein destroys his own magnificent new creation, and with it the Creature’s last chance for companionship and humanity. As the years drag on the two devastated protagonists chase one another across the globe through a labyrinth of their own consequences. This aimless quest eventually leads Frankenstein to the furthest reaches of the Arctic where he meets the optimistic young explorer to whom he has relayed the tale. With a final breath, he brings his story to an end.
EPILOGUE: Captain Walton, much changed, reflects on the harrowing tale. His own ambitions weigh heavily as he considers a more responsible course, but in the final instant he is overwhelmed by the sight of the Creature.
Created, Directed and Composed by Mat Diafos Sweeney, and adapted for the stage from Mary Shelley’s novel with Sebastian Peters-Lazaro (choreography and design dramaturgy) and Jesse Rasmussen (collaborative lyricist)About Four Larks
Premiere Production | the Wallis | February 12-March 7, 2020:
Creature: Max Baumgarten
Mary Shelley / Voice of Frankenstein & Creature: Claire Woolner
Victor Frankenstein: Kila Packett
Female Creature / Elizabeth Lavenza: Joanna Lynn-Jacobs
Henry Clerval: Craig Piaget
Sisters: Katherine Washington & Yvette Holzwarth
Brother / Captain Walton: Lukas Papenfusscline
Father: Philip Graulty
Specimens: Lu Coy, James VitzWong, & James Waterman
Direction: Mat Diafos Sweeney, Choreography: Sebastian Peters-Lazaro
Set/Prop: Sebastian Peters-Lazaro, Set Dressing: Regan Baumgarten
Costume: Lena Sands, Make-Up: Pamela Bjorklund & Jesse Rasmussen
Projection: Laskfar Vortok, Lighting: Brandon Baruch
Sound: Alex Hawthorne, Additional Music: Ellen Warkentine
For more information about the artists and production please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
“Ingenious…a hypnotic progression of sights, sounds, and ideas…a master-class of physical performance…a jaw-dropping combination of performance, stagecraft and technology”
–LOS ANGELES BLADE, Jon Paul King
“Spectacular…a visual and aural treat that engages you from beginning to end…Mat Sweeney’s intricate concept and beautiful compositions are brilliantly realized…superb staging, design, music, and libretto… virtuosic performances…a satisfyingly cerebral and viscerally spellbinding piece of entertainment.”
–ARTS BEAT LA, Pauline Adamek
“Frankenstein is a major work…visually and aurally breathtaking- and terrifying in equal measure…Frankenstein will punch you in the gut.”
–KCRW, Anthony Byrnes
“Exquisite…Frankenstein is a mad and brilliant creation, weaving together dark and beautiful elements into one awe-inspiring and horrific mass…the artistry verges on scientific mastery”
–STAGE RAW, Vanessa Cate
“Four Larks has created a fascinating creature from the bones of Shelley’s novel…thrillingly realized in an inventive movement-theatre style…visually enthralling…Max Baumgarten is an extraordinary physical performer”
–LOS ANGELES TIMES, Charles McNulty