The Monster Within
William Yeoman, The West Australian
After a sell-out 2017 season, Frank Enstein returns to the Heath Ledger Theatre at the State Theatre Centre of WA.
Made by the award-winning creative duo of Gavin Webber and Grayson Millwood from QLD-based company The Farm in collaboration with WA’s flagship contemporary dance company Co3 Australia, Frank Enstein is a hilarious, poignant tale of self-acceptance in this classic story with a twist.
Coinciding with the 200th anniversary of Mary Shelley’s novel, this revival of Frank Enstein features two young performers in the lead roles formerly played by adults.
William Rees, 16, takes on the title role of Frank bringing his unique experience of performing with a disability to the character. 15-year-old local dancer, and Act-Belong-Commit Co:Youth Ensemble member Luci Young makes her professional debut in the role of Liz.
Co3 Australia dancers Andrew Searle, Talitha Maslin and Zachary Lopez reprise their roles as the monsters frank brings to life.
“Frank Enstein is based on themes from the original story around self-acceptance and the courage to accept the way that you are – it’s about bringing life to inanimate matter,” Co3 Australia’s Artistic Director Raewyn Hill explains.
According to Hill, The Farm desires to create works that are based on universal themes that connect with everyone.
“I really believe that this work matters because I think that we all know the story about the battle with self,” she says. “I think that that’s a universal story – the struggle to fit in, the struggle to find place and the struggle to find worth – and I think it’s a story that speaks to all of us. I guess, for me, that’s really why I was attracted to being part of bringing this work to life.”
Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein has been adapted in many forms since it was first published in 1818 and a lot have been bleak and sinister. Hill says this reworking includes a lot of humour.
“I’m in complete awe with Gavin and Grayson, that they can tackle some pretty hard themes – like I say, this work matters because it talks to all of us about this concept of struggle and the concept of accepting self – and the absolute beauty with them as makers is that they can tackle a very different thing like this and find humour in it and present it in a way that is perhaps not as confronting,” she says.
“So there’s an accessibility to their work which comes about through balancing the light and the dark – they are absolute masters at it.”
Hill believes it’s a work that connects with the child in all of us, and the balanced and broad appeal of the show is also helping a younger generation connect with contemporary dance.
“It speaks to children and it speaks to adults because I guess as we grow up we forget that … we still hold that child in us and we forget that that child needs to be nurtured as well,” she explains.
“It is a work, I think it’s from eight years up and it speaks to everybody.”
Frank Enstein opens at the Heath Ledger Theatre, at the State Theatre Centre April 11 until April 15. Book through Perth Theatre Trust: tickets.ptt.wa.gov.au