Frankenstein at Lifeline Theatre: A Small Stage Telling Big Stories
By Edina Hadzic
The theater was small and tightly packed with an eagerly awaiting audience. As we waited for the show to begin, an actress sat on stage scribbling away at what appeared to be a notebook. She was dressed in nineteenth-century clothing and was already in character. The stage was set to look like a bedroom; clothing, books, and bags were arranged in an organized mess around the edges of the stage. Lights illuminated the walls to look like stars, which quickly flashed on and off to signal the start of the show.
Lifeline Theatre’s rendition of “Frankenstein” was adapted by Robert Kauzlaric and based on the novel by Mary Shelley. The small cast tells a powerful story about loss and coming to terms with pain. The show begins with Victoria (Ann Sonneville), the protagonist, expressing her agony over the death of her father (Chris Hainsworth). Her family attempts to support her through her emotional turmoil, but she rejects their advances and instead throws herself into her studies at university. As a talented student with an extensive knowledge of the sciences, she begins to fantasize about the possibility of reincarnating her father. Victoria finds strength in her desire to defy death itself and works tirelessly to bring her father back to life. However, once Victoria accomplishes this, her father proves to be very different from the man he was before. She is unable to love this new version of her father, and forces him into isolation in the woods. Unable to associate with society and condemned to a lonely existence, Victoria’s monster constantly asks her to accept him as her creation. She refuses, which infuriates him. As Victoria tries to run away from her problems, he persistently haunts her and begins to rip her family apart.
The play focuses on how Victoria’s internal manifestations of pain terrorize her. Her “Frankenstein” is her fear, anxiety, and uncertainty of the future without her father. It destroys her relationships with her family, friends, and the relationship she has with herself. Throughout the beginning of the performance, it becomes evident that Victoria feels the imbalance in her family caused by her father’s absence. She lost one of her dearest companions, and can not adhere to the fact that her greatest confident is gone. Victoria’s inability to accept her father’s death causes her to create the very thing that takes the remaining members of her family away from her. The temporary solitude that she throws herself into after her father's death becomes permanent with the death of her family, and it is not until she accepts her pain that she is finally able to move on from her loss.
The cast at Lifeline put on a spectacular performance that showed the versatility a small stage can provide. The sets shifted from a college campus, a graveyard, a cabin in the woods, a beach, and a wedding reception within about 100 square feet and with seven cast members. Sonneville’s performance as Victoria was meticulous and emotional. The cast worked wonderfully as a unit to craft a thought-provoking performance that proves the importance of emotional honesty. The production will continue to run until November 11th.
Lifeline Theatre: 6912 N. Glenwood Ave, Chicago, IL, 60626
Showtimes: Thursday-Saturday (see http://www.lifelinetheatre.com/ for more info on times)
Show running until Nov. 11th