Two hundred years since the release of Mary Shelley’s seminal piece Frankenstein, AUB Productions stages its latest play Ctrl C as part of the Shelley Frankenstein Festival – in the very place where the author is buried, St Peter’s Church. An abstract piece, feasibly influenced by stage theorist Adolphe Appia, Ctrl C explores the theme of human creation and the danger this causes when said creations take on a life of their own.
The play follows young writer Clara as she undertakes her latest project; a modern re-imagining of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. Against publisher deadlines, relationship and family struggles, Clara finds her own story running parallel to that of Shelley and her own character, Victoria – prompting the question: where does real life end and the story begin? As she struggles against writer’s block, the tension between creator and creation (this can conceivably be stretched to God and mankind), is at the heart of this atmospheric piece.
Leading the cast, Dayna Redfern brings a very vulnerable and relatable quality to protagonist Clara and the character’s emotional arc is portrayed convincingly. Alongside Redfern, Alex Makar is likeable in the role of Clara’s boyfriend, Will, whilst Susannah Greenow does justice to the role of Mary Shelley, giving her a ghostly aura. All actors had exceptional physicality throughout, playing (in my interpretation) the writers’ voices vying for prominence. Particularly good was Beth Hamlett as the Spirit (her main scene with Clara stealing the show for me) and Chester Wallace as Number 36.
However, I found the staging, costumes and atmosphere were given priority by director Tamsin Fessey – a priority well placed. Set ‘in the round’, the audience was placed within the heart of the action, accompanied by a 360o surround sound (many sound effects provided by the actors themselves). This staging complimented nicely the uneasiness that the gothic genre inspires in its audiences. The stunning venue was utilised perfectly with eerie shadowing, lighting and echoes perfecting the performance. A good example of this was when Mary Shelley (Greenow) appeared on the pulpit cradling one of her ill-fated babies before it is cruelly taken; the surrounding cries, screams and uncomfortably bright spotlight making this scene very uncomfortable, yet poignant.
Ctrl C offers a modern take on themes explored in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and I would recommend the play to fans of the original novel or those who enjoy immersive theatre. My only critiques surround the somewhat clumsy exposition in the characters’ dialogue near the beginning and the inability to hear certain lines when actors face away. Having said that, this is a collaborative piece, put together by students from AUB’s performance and creative degrees and if they keep up the level of dedication I witnessed tonight, they have bright futures in the entertainment industry and I wish them all the best.
There are two last performances on Sat 8th December 2.30pm and 7.30pm. Tickets £5.
(Ctrl C has previously been advertised as Shelley’s Voices)