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May 22, 2024

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Studio Tenn’s Frankenstein

Many themes are woven into this theatrical retelling of a classic fable.

Studio Tenn presents: Frankenstein (Aug. 31 – Sept. 9; Ages 14+) Jamison Hall at The Factory 230 Franklin Road, Franklin 615-541-8200 | Remaining showtimes: Fri 7 p.m., Sat 2 & 7 p.m., Sun 2 p.m. Tickets: $35 – $90 Studio Tenn kicks off its ninth season with a big nod to a 200-year-old piece of literature — Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. Shelley's gothic novel, one of the earliest examples of science fiction, stands the test of time. Through the past two centuries, the story has inspired many adapted works and carved the path for the horror story genre. The Frankenstein tale has also been the source of several derivative works such as plays, TV shows and movies. Studio Tenn's offering is a brand-new adaptation by A.S. Peterson, the fellow who wrote The Battle of Franklin for the company two season's ago. Peterson's effort stays true to Shelley's book, and Director Matt Logan's multi-functional, eye-popping set design creates succinct staging for the unfolding drama. As the production's leads, Jared Reinfeldt (Victor Frankenstein) and Euriamis Losada (The Monster) each deliver solid acting talent providing an entertaining theatrical event. There's a considerable amount of compelling back-and-forth dialogue between the Monster and his creator that provides engaging food for thought. The characters alternate narrating their version of the story, bringing to light the usual themes in the Frankenstein fable. At the forefront of the story is one of humanity's most dangerous flaws, prejudice. While the Monster is initially warm and open-hearted, the way he's treated due to his appearance results in his sinister turn. It's that big question of whether people are born evil or have it thrust upon them, thus altering their outlook and path in life. Frankenstein's other prevalent themes include one's need for love and acceptance; the belittlement of the innocent by the powerful; the relationship between creator and creation; and the morality issues surrounding man's quest to usurp God's role in creating life. Garris Wimmer's role of De Lacey is a pivotal one as he's the only character who treats the monster kindly. That's because De Lacey is blind, but still. He sympathizes with the monster's unhappiness and offers the glimmer of hope in that the hearts of men are fully of brotherly love and charity. Of course, that screeches to an abrupt halt when De Lacey's son and daughter-in-law return, shrieking in horror upon sight of the Monster. The thing that detracts from this scene is Wimmer's vocalization of the old, blind peasant. The high-pitched shrill of his voice here, unfortunately, makes the character sound like a cartoon character versus a feeble old man. My main point of criticism, though, is the visual of the monster himself. Although there is great detail in the makeup and prosthetic applications to the character (as seen in the show's publicity photos), it doesn't read in the back of the audience. A basic rule of theater is to play to the back of the room — on all counts. A more dramatic stroke is necessary here so those in the back of the room also get the effect of the monster's horrific appearance. That's important in order to establish a solid connection to the character.  That said, Studio Tenn's production of Frankenstein is certainly entertaining and a fun way to start the new season.          

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