Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

An outstanding performance of Frankenstein by The Merlin Players October 3, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 12:42 PM

THE WEATHER SET the mood for the evening in dreary gray skies that sputtered occasional drizzle and in a damp cold that chilled to the bone.

Inside the Paradise Center for the Arts in downtown Faribault, theater-goers settled in for the kick off of The Merlin Players 15th season with the production of Frankenstein. The director and cast couldn’t have asked for more perfect October weather as the play opened to a night-time graveyard scene complete with rolling fog.

Using appropriately-selected dramatic, if not frightening, music, flashes of lightning and booms of thunder and other special effects, along with an impressive rotating set, the director, cast and crew created a mood that could best be described as intense.

The entire production evoked an edge-of-your-seat response.

But on stage, Jake Boyd, who played Victor Frankenstein, was getting a bit worried. He told me after the show that he was freaking out because he wasn’t hearing an audience reaction. However, he soon realized, he said, that theater-goers were really getting into the show.

Exactly.

From the opening scene to the very end, this version of Mary Shelley’s original 1818 novel proved entertaining, thought-provoking and even emotional. And that is to director Daniel Rathbun and the cast and crew’s credit.

In one especially touching scene, De Lacey, a blind vagrant, befriends The Creature. The interaction between the two, played by Tim Vizina and Craig Berg, speaks to every person who has ever been shunned or teased or avoided because he/she is different. The two actors powerfully convey the importance of understanding and compassion and acceptance.

It was like that through-out the entire show—moments that prompted reason to pause and consider issues like life and death, relationships and priorities, social status, selfishness, power and much more.

“What have we done, oh, Creator?” The Creature asks of Victor Frankenstein, the seemingly mad scientist who created the monster in his tower laboratory.

What The Merlin Players have done, oh, Creator, is create one memorable performance through outstanding use of special effects, exceptional sets, top-notch directing and give-it-their-all acting by the performers.

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Plan now to see Frankenstein, which is showing on Oct. 3 and 4 and 8 – 10. Reserve your tickets by calling The Paradise Center for the Arts at (507) 332-7372. For more information, log on to www.paradisecenterforthearts.org or www.merlinplayers.org. While this play has plenty of scary moments, it is appropriate for those as young as upper elementary grades. As one mom who was attending with her family on Friday night told me, her young son loves this kind of stuff. He was, however, looking for the bolts in The Creature’s head. Sorry, no bolts, just an ugly scar.