Shake & Stir Theatre Co's Stage Production of 'Frankenstein' Is Coming Alive in Melbourne and Sydney in 2024

Shake & Stir Theatre Co has already taken on 'Dracula', 'Jane Eyre' and 'A Christmas Carol' — now it's Mary Shelley's masterpiece's turn.
Sarah Ward
Published on May 15, 2024

Some of gothic horror's greatest masterpieces foresaw their longevity. Bram Stoker's Dracula will never die, and Mary Shelley's Frankenstein will never stop being brought to life, either. Shake & Stir Theatre Co took on the former back in 2015 and 2017, in a brand-new world-premiere stage production that sunk its fangs into the most famous vampire tale there is. Now, the South Brisbane-based theatre company has turned its attention to Victor Frankenstein and his creation.

Shake & Stir's new version of Frankenstein debuted in Queensland in 2023, and will now head to Melbourne and Sydney before 2024 is out. The story remains the same as it has since 1818, of course, following a young scientist tormented by grief, a bold push to thwart mortality, plus the consequences sparked by his act of playing god. And, as always, it covers the impact upon the being that's spliced together, jolted into existence, yearns to belong, but is swiftly and cruelly shunned.

"Gothic fiction is a passion of the company, and Shelley's ground-breaking novel, credited for both its gothic roots and for pioneering the science fiction genre, presents an excitingly monstrous challenge in mounting it for the stage," said Shake & Stir Co-Artistic Director Nick Skubij, who is also directing Frankenstein, when the Brisbane season was announced.

"We couldn't be more excited to be presenting this brilliant production to audiences in Melbourne and Sydney. Those eager to see an absolute classic story live on stage will be appeased, along with those hungry to be impressed by new theatrical forms," added Skubij about the new seasons.

"This production invites audiences on a journey into the mind of a madman and they will see things on stage that they've seldom seen before. This is Shelley's classic story told in a brand-new, hi-tech monster of a show. Multiple axis of automation, over 140 square metres of LED video panels, pyrotechnics and a cinematic, sweeping score — all working seamlessly together to bring Shelly's tale to visceral life."

Accordingly, audiences at Melbourne's Princess Theatre from Friday, August 23–Sunday, September 1 and Sydney Theatre Royal from Saturday, September 28–Sunday, October 13, 2024 can expect an immersive performance that steps through Shelley's classic — and with a big emphasis on production design. Think: those video and digital elements playing a hefty part, and the meticulous sound design setting the mood.

Shake & Stir's Frankenstein follows not only Dracula, but also Wuthering Heights, Jane Eyre, A Christmas Carol, Macbeth, Othello, Animal Farm, The Twits, Fantastic Mr Fox and Romeo & Juliet among the company's looks backwards. In the past few years, the theatre group has brought Fourteen and Tae Tae in the Land of Yaaas! — both personal stories, with the first based on the memoir of the same name — to the stage as well.

The oft-adapted Frankenstein is no stranger to audiences, including earning a stunning Royal National Theatre iteration by Danny Boyle (Yesterday) starring Benedict Cumberbatch (The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar) and Jonny Lee Miller (Guy Ritchie's The Covenant) in 2011 — with the two actors rotating roles between Victor and the creature each night — that's been playing cinemas worldwide ever since thanks to NT Live.

With Shake & Stir's take, Skubij sees the timelessness of the work, plus the current parallels. "It's been fascinating to consider this incredible work dealing with themes of advancement, progress and pushing the limits of possibility alongside contemporary
advances in AI technology today. The story could not be more relevant," he noted.

"Like Victor Frankenstein's creation, AI is arguably neither good nor bad; it's how it's built and used that dictates its legacy."

"Frankenstein's monster is just that: a living, breathing 'being' far superior in capabilities than any natural human could ever be. But what are the consequences of using science to play God?"

Mary Shelley's Frankenstein Adapted by Shake & Stir Theatre Co Dates:

Friday, August 23–Sunday, September 1, 2024 — Princess Theatre, Melbourne
Saturday, September 28–Sunday, October 13, 2024 — Sydney Theatre Royal, Sydney

Shake & Stir Theatre Co's Frankenstein will play Melbourne in August and September 2024, and Sydney in September and October 2024. Head to the production's website for further information — and for tickets from Friday, May 17.

Images: Joel Devereaux.

Published on May 15, 2024 by Sarah Ward
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