Company: Collisions, Frankenstein

Review in Issue 12-1 | Spring 2000

Director Tanushka Marah has poured her heart and soul into the first production of Company: Collisions, a reworking of Frankenstein. The resulting piece is filled to the brim with luscious Gothic imagery with a modern twist, dynamic performances, strong choreography and an interesting text assembled from the writings of Mary Shelley, Lord Byron, Rousseau and Goethe (amongst others). Shelley's experiences of miscarriage, birth and bereavement are placed at the centre of the production, giving credence to the view that most fiction is autobiographical (even the most fantastical), and also highlighting the Age of Enlightenment's separation of science and medicine from art and nature. This notion is represented by Mary's bed – propped up by books, strewn with pillows, and overshadowed by shelves of glass bottles. Placed centre stage, it is the focus for the performance, and gives a unity to what is, for the most part, a good production.

And yet, the show is not perfect. It is too long, and having an interval is a bad decision in an expressionist piece that relies on the creation of mood rather than the cerebral response of the audience. There is an unresolved conflict between the narrative and expressive elements of the piece and far too many fiddly changes of role and costume. The one change that would improve the piece beyond measure would be a decision to keep the Mary Shelley character consistently on stage. Let everyone else merge, blend and metamorphose as elements of our dreams, fears and memories – but this is Mary's story and she should witness it. Despite these reservations, I left the theatre feeling energised and uplifted. I have no doubt that Company: Collisions will prove to be a force to be reckoned with.

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This article in the magazine

Issue 12-1
p. 25