In Review: Big Finish Classics: Frankenstein (Special Edition)

Arthur Darvill went from Rory to Morbius by skilled degrees.

Synopsis: When the crew of the Oceanus rescued a man close to death, its captain could barely have guessed at the incredible story that man would come to share. This is the story of Victor Frankenstein: a man obsessed with discovering the secret of life and cheating death; a man who brings to life to a body built from corpses; and a man who rejects this would-be child…

Soon, Victor and his creature are entangled in a dangerous game of cat and mouse across Europe. But who is truly the monster?

Arthur Darvill stars in this gripping audiobook adaptation of Mary Shelley’s chilling tale, dramatised by Jonathan Barnes.

This special edition release features a bonus documentary – Behind the Screams – examining the worlds of horror in audio drama.

Review: I’ve loved the Big Finish Classics Range ever since I bought the first one — Barnaby Edwards’ superb adaptation of Gaston Leroux’s The Phantom of the Opera. I’m sorry we won’t get to hear the adaptation of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein Edwards had planned after Phantom. Fascinated by the adaptation process, I would’ve really enjoyed comparing and contrasting his approach with that of Jonathan Barnes.

Barnes brought the same depth of understanding to Frankenstein that he brought to The Ordeals of Sherlock Holmes. While he wrote original tales for The Great Detective in the same tone as Conan Doyle’s canon, Barnes had to walk a much finer line with Shelley’s work. He had to adapt her original tale, giving modern psychological contexts to the characters. In the case of Victor Frankenstein, this meant redefining the anti-hero’s obsession in modern terms. Today’s audience doesn’t take obsession for granted the way Shelley’s audience did. In order for the story to make sense, Barnes had to convey Frankenstein’s state as pathological, a personality disorder. As necessary as this step was, however, it produced one regrettable side-effect. There were too many expositional sequences in which the characters repetitively commented on his psychology and that of Captain Robert Walton, Frankenstein’s thematic mirror. Subjectively, I could’ve also done without the psycho-sexual dimension that Barnes added among Frankenstein, Elizabeth, Justine, and the Creature’s Bride. There’s a razor thin line between character parallels and soap opera.

Those issues aside, the overall script is marvelous with greater structural fidelity to the original novel than any other adaptation I’ve come across. Barnes accommodated three narrators, including (Thank the gods) The Creature. The actors took full advantage of their performance showcase. Arthur Darvill went from Rory to Morbius by skilled degrees. As for Nicholas Briggs, he voiced the definitive Creature, just as Peter Guinness voiced the definitive Phantom.

You can purchase Big Finish Classics Frankenstein (Special Edition) here: http://www.bigfinish.com/releases/v/frankenstein-special-edition-1025

Written By: Mary Shelley, dramatised by Jonathan Barnes

Directed By: Scott Handcock

Cast

Arthur Darvill (Victor Frankenstein), Nicholas Briggs (Waldman/The Creature), Geoffrey Beevers (Alphonse Frankenstein/DeLacey), Georgia Moffett (Elizabeth), Terry Molloy (Christensen/Proprietor), Alex Jordan (Captain Robert Walton), Geoffrey Breton (Henry Clerval/Felix), Lizzie Hopley (Giselle/Agatha/Lorna), Stephen Fewell (Krempe/Judge/Kirwin), Sarah Ovens (Justine/Female Creature)

Producer and Script Editor Scott Handcock

Executive Producers Jason Haigh-Ellery and Nicholas Briggs

9.5
In Review: Big Finish Classics: Frankenstein (Special Edition)
  • performances, overall script
  • psycho-sexual soapiness
  • Acting
    10
  • Script Adaptation
    9
  • Audio Production
    10
  • Music
    9

Raissa Devereux became a life-long genre fan at the age of four when she first saw The Wizard of Oz at a screening at Arizona State University. Years later, she graduated from A.S.U. as an English major, History minor, Whovian, and Trekkie. Now a Florida transplant, she loves the opportunity Sci-Fi Pulse has given her to further explore space travel, time travel, masked heroes, gothic castles, and good yarns.
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