It’s not for want of a “proper” venue that Old Deerfield Productions’ re-exploration of Frankenstein is being performed in an abandoned building. The reason is twofold, the most important being that the skeletal, echoing marble-and-iron interior of the former First National Bank in Greenfield is just as eerily Gothic as Mary Shelley’s classic novel. This new adaptation plumbs and extends the questions of morality, identity, sexuality and industry that obsessed Shelley but have been bypassed by the bolt-necked movie monster. Shelley saw Dr. Frankenstein’s Creature, brought to life from dead flesh, as a metaphor for the Industrial Age’s juggernaut of can-do invention and achievement that was destroying humane ethics and rooted culture in an out-of-control rush of greed in the name of progress. For director Linda McInerney, this is not old news, but blisteringly relevant to now.
Her concept has taken shape in the hands of a virtuoso team of collaborators. Actor/playwright Lindel Hart adapted the 1818 novel and plays the Creature, brought to life in this instance by world-class makeup artist Joe Dulude II, who’s created a body stitched together from cadavers of various races and genders. Veteran performer Court Dorsey plays Victor Frankenstein, the monster’s rash creator, and all the other roles—except, that is, for that of Mary Shelley herself. She’s not part of the action but, portrayed by Jane Williams, follows and to some extent shapes it, not with a pen but a video camera. Projections by Albanian videographer Florian Canga “illustrate the story through light and image that also draw parallels to our troubled present.”
The other reason for staging “Frank” in the bank is McInerney’s ongoing quest to bring dead spaces in downtown Greenfield back to life—a juicy metaphor in itself. The production is not recommended for young children or delicate adults, due to scary parts, scenes of rape and murder, and some nudity.•
July 17-19 and 24-26, 8 p.m., First National Bank Building, Bank Row, Greenfield. Tickets $20 at brownpapertickets.com. Limited seating, advance reservation recommended.