Saturday, 8 November 2014

NT Live: Frankenstein (Semiotically Analysed)

This article will help any other Theatre student critically analyse a stage production and I am being generous in offering my view, but this is also reflective account of my viewing experience of the stage show. I would read this is as an example of Semiology if you are stuck to grasp the complexities of the subject. I am interested to research more into the theory of signs for my dissertation process next year.

A reflection of my interpretation
The story in this stage adaptation, in my opinion looks at who is the greater monster out of Victor Frankenstein and his creation. It reflects on the monster in man and in society. The audience is made to feel sympatric towards the creature as through the story he is beaten and outcasted.  In the beginning we see a great lighting display that represents an electrical storm (fig.2), and a stage prop that depicts a womb. (The actor’s silhouette is shown (fig. 4)) - Note that figure 2 can also represent the time period of the play which is being set. (19th century)

The actor represents the birth of his character, the creature and expresses this through movement and sounds. This 30 minute  solo performance expresses his emotional state and the stimuli of new being that is overwhelming to him, the audience therefore shares his experience of existence.

This solo performance makes the audience gain an understanding of his Emotional, Educational and social experiences throughout the story; you could make a similarity between the actor and the character by arguing that the actor develops into the character as the character develops into life.
The birth of victor’s creation represents his Genesis.

And the lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul' - King James Bible Genesis Chapter 2 verse 1

Recitation of King James Bible Genesis Chapter 2 verse 1 reiterates the notion of victor having a god complex as victor got body parts from the earth forms his creature and breathes life into it using electricity.

The time period was visually reflected through the costumes used on stage, this element brought together all the other visual signs that combine to create an absolute meaning that is to be interpreted.

What I get from the performance is that victor and his creation are similar as they both aim to gain acceptance. The creature aims to be accepted by society, and Victor aims to be accepted for his scientific innovation. They both fail in this respect.

I observed that Victor Frankenstein appeared to be more in love with his work than his affections for his wife. However the creature grasped the emotion of love but Victor did not, and reacted in a jealous and callus manner.  All Victor knew was his creation and his obsessive attitude towards work. As result victor underestimated his creation’s emotional intelligence and the implications towards what he had created, a man.

From what I have just discussed I will now compare my interpretation to the writer and director’s interpretation of the play. This information is sourced from National Theatre’s Digital Programme of ‘Frankenstein’

Nick Dear and Danny Boyle wanted to produce an adaptation of Frankenstein which emphasis the creature’s point of view. In the beginning of the production Boyle describes the performance of the actor as a child’s performance and this is reflected in movement and expression of his emotional experience on stage.

‘Victor creates the creature in his own likeness, not physically but mentally’ – Danny Boyle

The creature has a voice in this production which is true to Mary Shelley’s book.

Only two main characters tell the story in this production, other minor characters help to guide the story along but they are not as significant as the book.

Science gives the right for man to comfort his creator’ – Danny Boyle

The four seasons is visually represented in the play during the scenes with De Lacey. This expresses his learning and also depicts time moving forward but also the story moving forward.
The creation provides a beauty towards the end of the play with his personality; this is developed with the audience. His appearance maybe repulsive but his soul and mind is beautiful.

Set transitions within the play indicate the chapters within the story. (Set Design by Mark Tildesley) 

·         National Theatre Live: Frankenstein Digital Programme (2014) which includes video interviews with Danny Boyle and Nick Dear. 

More Info Here: National Theatre Live

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