I was really fortunate to be invited to watch “The Resurrectionist”, a new play based around Mary Shelley’s ‘Frankenstein’, and the “true events” which caused it to be written. The production was written by Robert Pope and Ian Dixon Potter, and is being presented at the Etecetera Theatre in Camden.
The theatre itself is very quirky, a small black-box theatre situated above The Oxford Arms pub in Camden. It’s amazing that there is this quiet arts space tucked away in bustling, tourist-ridden Camden. It made such a nice change from all of the West End theatres I seem to be attending recently.
And on that note, this show is one I thoroughly enjoyed, and I don’t think I’ve enjoyed a show so much in a while. It was original, thought-provoking, heartwarming, and yet also endearing and funny. Pope and Potter’s writing is intelligent and well grounded in key debates surrounding not only the Victorian era it was set in, but also the contemporary world we live in today. These included the play-off between religion and science, the idea of souls and life after death, class, and even sexuality. It was a sound choice to use historical figures such as Mary Shelley (who after the “true” events in this play) went on to write Frankenstein, and Lothario Lord Byron with fictional characters Victor Darvell and Byron’s servant Blaize.
So what is the play about? Essentially, is a retelling of Frankenstein but with the view that these events are what inspired Shelley’s famous novel. Byron brings back his dead servant Blaize to Darvell’s laboratory, and Darvell manages to reanimate Blaize back to life – leading to chaos. Though Blaize has full physical and mental capacity, he is unable to remember his former life, which causes much confusion for him. Tom Everatt was fantastic in his role as Blazie, bringing a childlike quality to his physicality as he learns to walk, hold things, and manage life again.His characterisation was endearing, and I do not fear Blaize – as Pastor Cornelius and Professor Graber do – but wanted to protect him. Peter Dewhurst, as Blazie’s re-animator/creator/father Victor Darvell (whichever word I choose is loaded with connotations) was striking in his performance, commanding the stage. His connection with Everatt was perfect and they both stole the show – a sort of father and son taking the fall of other’s thoughts together.
I have nothing negative to say about this production – it was intelligent and made me think, which was a nice change to a lot of the glossy shows I have seen recently. It consisted of one set and was largely just conversations between the six characters. This may sound boring, but it most definitely was not – this is my favourite type of play; one where you need no gimmicks, and instead just need solid characters and an engaging plot and ideas to sail through with.
My only issue was the framing device of Byron and Shelley visiting the laboratory after the events had happened. It was nice to have some context that the past events about to play out “inspired” Frankenstein, but as this device wasn’t visited again I felt it was not really needed – the opening of Byron carrying in a dead Blaize would have been dramatic and attention-grabbing in itself.
Overall, this is a fantastic piece of new writing by Golden Age Theatre Company, and one for the literary enthusiasts out there as there are many nods to pieces of literature trivia throughout the piece.
Tickets can be booked here: https://www.ticketea.co.uk/tickets-theatre-the-resurrectionist/
*though I was invited by Golden Age Theatre Company to see the show, all views are my own.