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Reviews

VICTOR

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In playwright Alistair Faulkner's suspense thriller, which takes place in 1810, a mysterious man (James Castle Stevens) washes up on the shore of an isolated Scottish island following a shipwreck and is saved by kindly local doctor James (Brian David Pope), who nurses him back to health. Even though he becomes the object of curiosity to the island's ruling Laird (Christopher Corey-Smith) and an object of desire to James' spinster sister Agnes (Elizabeth Dement), the man himself keeps his silence—until a monstrous creature (David Reynolds) suddenly and inexplicably appears on the island, menacing James' shallow wife (Alison Robertson) and killing various local fishermen.

It turns out that the mysterious man is the infamous ambitious scientist Victor Frankenstein. As for the creature who's wreaking havoc on the island, you don't get the lottery prize for guessing that it's none other than Frankenstein's famous living Victorian experiment in developing the perfect bridge partner, who is petitioning, in the only bloody way he knows how, for Victor to build him a bride.

Faulkner's thriller is a dramatic pastiche, offering an ingenious extrapolation of the events in Mary Shelley's novel Frankenstein, and director Taylor Ashbrook's production is engrossingly effective at evoking an eerie Gothic mood that's spooky and disturbing. The play is admittedly rather talky, with Faulkner preferring to emphasize philosophical argument and melodramatic pontificating over powerful incident. Yet there's no denying that the scenes between Frankenstein and his monster are powerful and cracklingly dramatic.

The acting here is particularly strong, the performers bringing psychologically layered, subtext-filled life to dialogue that on the page would seem stilted and affected. Stevens' anguished Victor is a remarkably nuanced turn; so is Reynolds' angry yet believably pained monster. It's also movingly sad to watch Dement's Agnes evolve from girlish to resigned, and watch Pope change from idealistic to bitter. These are transformations of a more natural but no less horrible kind.

"Victor," presented by Black & Tan Productions and the Eclectic Company Theatre at the Eclectic Company Theatre, 5312 Laurel Canyon Blvd., N. Hollywood. Fri.-Sat. 8 p.m., Sun. 3 p.m. Feb. 8-Mar. 24. $12-15. (818) 508-3003.

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