King’s Ely Junior pupils wow audiences with electrifying production of Frankenstein

King's Ely Junior pupils wowed audiences with their electrifying production of Frankenstein. Picture

King's Ely Junior pupils wowed audiences with their electrifying production of Frankenstein. Picture: TOBY RONEY. - Credit: Archant

King’s Ely Junior pupils wowed audiences with their electrifying production of Frankenstein after months of planning and rehearsing.

Year 7 and 8 drama students took to the stage on November 20 and 21 to present an adaptation of the Mary Shelley novel that was full of shocking twists and turns, and which certainly kept audiences on the edge of their seats.

More than 200 people attended the King’s Company production, which was held in the school’s Hayward Theatre and was directed by drama teacher Kathryn Sudbury.

She said: “I am very proud of the cast. They approached the play and the subjects of discrimination and difference in a mature and forward thinking manner.

“Their energy and enthusiasm during their rehearsals and performances made them a joy to work with.”

Frankenstein tells the story of Victor Frankenstein, a young scientist who creates a hideous, sapient creature in an unorthodox scientific experiment.

The novel was written by British author Mary Shelley in 1818 and since then it has been frequently reimagined as a stage play, with more than 100 adaptations, satires, re-workings and productions for television and film, and many more on the stage.

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King’s Ely Senior’s production next month is Jesus Christ Superstar.

Review by Charlotte Dean, former head of English at King’s Ely

What makes us human?

2018 being the bi-centenary year of the novel’s first publication would afford reason enough to revisit its central issue. However, the question remains highly significant today.

This year, horrific wars, destruction, famine and mass migration have exposed man’s inhumanity to man. And debates on the ethics and role of Artificial Intelligence have intensified. Under the skilful direction of Kathryn Sudbury, Years 7 and 8 showed they had the ability to tackle this topic with much greater depth than the Hammer horror version I had been half dreading.

I need not have worried. This production was mature and sensitive, while keeping the show exciting with its sophisticated sound and lighting effects. The 16 cast members showed a real team spirit and commendable modesty on the part of the principal players.

The half dozen villagers moved and danced and shouted with full commitment, their hair and costumes a timeless and zany mix of periods. Other characters contributed confidently, fleshing out the plot and providing cameos indicating much future dramatic potential.

Frankenstein himself (Rufus Froy) presented us with a tousle-haired, restless, animated scientist, alive with his passion for science and new discovery.

From the outset we could see his brilliance, but also that by hiding himself away he was unwittingly setting himself up for the tragic outcome.

He had lost sight of any awareness of consequence in his pursuit of his own goal, and was deaf to any advice he was given.

Rufus’ command of a massive number of lines (seemingly none forgotten) was astonishing.

William Hutton’s Monster was always riveting. He was utterly convincing in his pleas for love and an emotional life. His understanding of character and text was evident in his intelligent, clear delivery. His range of emotion, from his pleas for love and affection through to terrifying fury, was very maturely conveyed as a natural progression: his vengeful anger was tragic and inevitable. It was a masterly performance, and in every sense he is ‘one to watch’.

Congratulations go to all the back-stage crew for a flawlessly smooth show with no breaks in its hour duration. Congratulations, too, to James Lane for a very clever set: the large Hayward Theatre space was made more intimate using moveable light panels in a semi-circle behind the players which not only added colours to enhance the action but also had a Greek amphitheatre effect of focusing attention on the tragedy being played out within its bowl. Props within this space were minimal but effective. Sound effects and music were timed to perfection.

All in all, these young performers could not have had better support for their magnificent efforts.

What makes us human? ‘Frankenstein’ left us in no doubt that for all our (necessary) scientific and technological advances, we lose track of ethics and our need for love and compassion at our peril.