I had seen Rabbit Hole Ensemble’s The Tragic Story of Doctor Frankenstein (written by Stanton Wood and directed by Edward Elefterion) just a few short months ago and was so deeply impressed with the way it was presented that I was eagerly anticipating the second of the series Doctor Frankenstein’s Magical Creature. Another joint venture between Wood and Elefterion, Magical Creature tells both the same tale as Tragic Story as well as a completely different one; in a Rashomon type undertaking it retells the events from the perspective of the creature. Fear not – while you’ll recognize the bones of the original story (if you saw it) you most certainly are in for an entertaining evening as you watch the events unfold from the other side.
Having seen part one will give you a richer relationship with Magical Creature but it is by no means required in order to enjoy the piece; this production is as visceral, terrifying and heart-racing as its companion play. Those familiar with part one will be glad to see that the wonderful Emily Hartford reprises her role as the reanimated being who becomes “the creature”. Ms. Hartford is a powerful actress, deeply moving as this creature who is emotionally and physically spent with the daily struggle of simply existing. As a matter of fact, so heavy is her burden that her role is divided and played by two actresses – Ms. Hartford often acts as narrator as an earlier incarnation of herself played by Jocelyn O’Neil does a superb job of laying bare the absolute fear, isolation, need, and dread that the creature faces as she is thrown to the wilderness to fend for herself.
Elise Knight once again reprises her role as the brilliant but misguided doctor Victoria Frankenstein who gave life to the creature – and she is as compelling as she was in the story which highlighted her own dark journey.
Arthur Aulisi plays all the male roles – he is Victoria’s father as well as her husband and also breaks your heart as the blind man whom The Creature initially begs for friendship. He handles all these roles masterfully, and with grace – weaving in and out of the tapestry of what is really a woman’s story.
Once again, the use of Nikki Dillon and Rachel Pearl as Kuroko is amazingly effective and utterly necessary to the piece. By this second installation they have mastered the skill so fully that I couldn’t imagine this performance happening without them.
With just two performance left of Magical Creature now would be the time to go. However, the good news is that if seeing the second makes you wish you had seen the first you’ll be able to see both halves united as a whole later in the year as Rabbit Hole Ensemble completes their year of Frankenstein with a full production that features both sides of this amazing story. Personally, I can’t wait to see it all again.
~~~Doctor Frankenstein’s Magical Creature Old First Reformed Church 729 Carroll St. at 7th Ave. Park Slope (Brooklyn) Running Time: 1 hour; no intermission Prices: $18.00 Students: $15.00 Seniors: $15.00 Click Here for tickets