Frankenstein is not, contrary to popular belief, the big green monster with the bolts in his neck.
Instead, Frankenstein is Dr. Victor Frankenstein – the man who creates the monster. Though in the new production of “Frankenstein” by the Modesto Junior College theater department, we start to wonder if the man isn’t really the monster after all.
The play, based on the classic horror story by Mary Shelley, comes alive starting today at the MJC East Campus Mainstage Auditorium. The cast and crew have been rehearsing for the fall production for about eight weeks. Each semester, the theater department puts on two productions.
MJC theater professor and “Frankenstein” director Lynette Borrelli-Glidewell said the play’s spooky story fit perfectly with the Halloween season.
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“Most people think ‘Frankenstein’ and think Boris Karloff and the big green guy,” she said. “This is more Mary Shelley’s version. We’re making the creature a little more human. And we go into the moral question of who is really the monster – the creature or the man who made him?”
The play also touches on everything from life and death to grave robbing and scientific advancement.
The cast of 13 includes Sean Trew as Dr. Frankenstein, Rachel Pearre as his fiancée, Elizabeth, Jon Cates as Frankenstein’s best friend and Marc Pratt as Frankenstein’s monster. An additional 20 students are on the crew working as designers, technicians and more.
The staging includes a variety of special effects to convey the grandeur and madness of Frankenstein’s quest to bring life to the dead. While the story was written in 1818, Borrelli-Glidewell said the issues it touches on about science and morality remain current.
“With scientific advancement, sometimes you take three steps forward and two steps back,” she said. “At what price do we give up humanity in search of advancement? Even today it’s a current issue, whether it be cloning people or something else. Where do we draw the line of who is God?”
Then there’s the timeless scare of sewing together body parts and bringing them back to life; the doctor’s method has been borrowed from for countless stories, most recently the new season of the FX series “American Horror Story.”
“Frankenstein” will have a special Halloween night production at 10, complete with a costume contest before the show at 9.