All I knew about Dr. Frankenstein before I went to see it as it was essentially a ‘Feminist Frankenstein’. If the satisfying alliteration of that description wasn’t enough to draw me to it, the use of my favourite F-word to describe the play definitely was (clue: it’s not ’Frankenstein’).
Most students were forced through the drab and dreary teaching of the original ‘Frankenstein’ at some point in their secondary school lives. Frankenstein has suffered in the way many great works of literature do: it has been butchered by every GCSE English syllabus ever. This results in no student who endured the trials of the British school system having any remotely fond memories of the story. Dr. Frankenstein, however, breather a new air of life into the original story. It gave revived the story’s life, emotion and energy, sending the story through it’s own Frankenstein’s monster-type revival.
I did have my doubts about the play, as I feared it would be the same traditional story of Frankenstein, just with a differently gendered protagonist. To my delight, the play went above and beyond this transformation. Victoria Frankenstein’s character wonderfully tackled what it would have been like to be a women in science at the dawn of the British Empire, facing resistance and doubt from fellow academics, as well as from her family for not ‘knowing her place’ and acting as the supposed mother-figure after her mother passed away.
The story also seemed to remould the relationship between the Doctor and monster. It felt as though the two mirrored each-other. Both struggled to deal with the processing of their emotions, and both feeling restrictions imposed on them due to who they were - him as a monster, her as a woman. In this sense, I felt that the play made a good feminist point about the treatment of women as lesser-than human, as the monster is.
The final thing that really won me over was the marrying of the arts and sciences in relation to women. When watching Victoria Frankenstein on the stage rather than Victor, it felt like the origins of the story as well as the re-telling with a woman as the protagonist acted as a celebration of women making it in fields they are often far less successful than men in, such as classic literature and science.
If you fancy being spooked in your seat whilst simultaneously recharging your female empowerment batteries, then be sure to check out Dr. Frankenstein.