SHELLEY’S MONSTER, Act Now Productions, at the Turn Around Theatre. Mad doctor throws a lot of spare parts together and creates a monster. Or in this case, Act Now Productions throws a few audience suggestions at Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and attempts to create a two-act improv.
On the night I saw it, the actors in this good-natured but ultimately clumsy Halloween frolic seemed unsure about where the story was going and how to take it there. Perhaps they were waiting for Frankenstein to stumble in and tell his own story. The audience suggestions that night were particularly insipid, but that shouldn’t have posed much of a problem since the actors use them only peripherally, asking the audience for such details as a career for Victor’s childhood friend or a fetish for Igor. Their task should have been easier than it appeared to be for them: the improv lapsed into occasional incoherence, and the performers stepped on each other’s lines and intentions, screeched for attention, and broke into self-congratulatory chuckles whenever they managed to make something funny happen.
Since ensemble members did have occasional flashes of inspiration, and improv is a fickle monster, Act Now may yet have a good night with this piece. But since the audience suggestions play such a small role and the actors have such a well-known story to follow, Shelley’s Monster should not be so strained an experiment.