Modern spin on “Bride of Frankenstein” astounds in its twisted beauty
UVU Theater department chair and director Chris Clark scores again
Photo by Jaron Hermansen
Sackerson Productions’ experimental new version of “Bride of Frankenstein” is now playing in an unassuming industrial warehouse in Salt Lake City. The play is a bizarre, yet bewitching piece of art that is an excellent example of the evolution of post-modernism in our era.
The warehouse is filled with smoke and the entryway/open garage door features a strange, DIY fountain that sets the stage for the experience that awaits.
With not a word spoken using the actor’s voices, a recording of the original music and dialogue from the 1935 film are played over the speakers as the actors lip-synch and embody their characters with rehearsed precision.
The actor’s performances are almost equally superb, with standouts from supporting actors Shaun Francis Saunders flawlessly pulling off six characters and Maddy Forsyth convincingly melting into the role of hunchbacked servant, Minnie.
The show called upon several dancers performing contemporary physical theater, often outlining the scenes with a type of stylized movement that evoked added emotion.
The music is classically elegant, adding to the complex layers of atmosphere filling the small space. Composed by Franz Waxman and performed by the Westminster Philharmonic Orchestra, it is at once familiar and terrifying.
The cast is small and revolving with all of the twelve actors playing multiple parts. The stage, set with a stationary backdrop that resembles a mad scientist’s lab, and also a pirate ship’s treasure den, uses multidimensional props that are constantly repurposed. Every seat in the audience is close to the action, lending to an immersive experience.
The makeup is well done, using gothic white faces with dark shading. The costuming runs from 1920s glamour to “The Hills Have Eyes” type contorted and distressed clothing, including bone-chilling masks in the form of baby dolls and lambs. The entire styling aspect of the play is unnerving and crude, yet polished and savvy. It could be described as steampunk meets prohibition era glamour and squalor goes electronica.
The colorful and contemporary lighting provides for a large part of the overall ambience, bringing the production into the twenty-first century. With one large, white stage-encompassing light almost constantly shining down and a track beaming a variety of colored spotlights, mostly consisting of bright green and purple, the brilliance of these colors shines through the fog. Interesting lighting effects, like a hanging Edison bulb that is swung around the stage, are also employed throughout.
At around an hour and fifteen minutes, the play moves at a breakneck pace, switching between scenes with surprisingly rapid fluidity. The momentum builds to a frenetic final sequence that pays off with a semi-shocking explosion of an ending.
Chris Clark, who directed the innovative “production within a production” stage version of “Nosferatu” at UVU in 2008, has once again successfully brought his unique and forward-thinking vision to life. He has continued to show an expertise in technical showmanship that employs the use of modern technology to create a stunning clash with classic stories and styles.
Consider this play when making Halloween entertainment plans as an opportunity to witness something that is gorgeous, groundbreaking and will satisfy that traditional early autumn need to be sufficiently creeped out.
For more show times and more information, including some very entertaining cast bios, visit www.bride-of-frankenstein.com