Dr. Frankenstein Interview
“It’s alive, it’s alive!”
Frankenstein is a story as well-known as this line itself. But, like the good doctor, the story has been subjected to a healthy dose of experimentation in Northern Stage’s adaptation of Mary Shelly’s famous tale. In this version Dr. Frankenstein is a woman and actress Polly Frame has taken the role. We got in touch to find out more.
How do you feel about playing the lead role?
I read Frankenstein when I was like fourteen and loved it and loved the film Young Frankenstein! It’s one of those stories that everybody knows about and has some kind of connection to it. This play was a brilliant chance to be in the story and to have a pivotal role is really exciting.
What do you think about making the traditionally male Frankenstein character female?
The idea really attracted me. Firstly, you wouldn’t get this opportunity unless someone consciously decided to swap it or cast it as a woman. Also, although the genders are flipped and the attitude towards what women could do socially comes into play, effectively the drive and the persona of the character is the same. It’s great because as a woman you are not marginalised into a part, giving you the chance to be bold and daring and maybe not all together likeable as the character.
Does it add more layers to the story?
I think this play adds different elements to the story. It’s set in the period but it’s got a modern voice. It asks more questions than the book and there are more characters too; the play becomes more of an ensemble piece.
Is the changing of genders something you’d like to see in other adaptations of classic plays?
Definitely! I don’t think there is any part that can be denied to one gender or another. So really it should be open to men to play classical female roles too.
And you were rehearsing two plays at once?
The other play is Hedda Gabler. We had one in the morning and then one in the afternoon and they are both massive plays. It was definitely hard work, but we’ve got there in the end. Everyone got on really well and it’s been a good experience!
Have you performed or visited Sheffield before?
This will be my first time in Sheffield and I’m really excited about it! Everyone I ask seems to love it and says it’s a great city. As a cast, we are all looking forward to it!
I’m sure you will be great in the role, but how about the rest of the play?
The set design is elegant, dark and stunning! It’s by Tim Piper, who helped make the First World War poppies installation in London for Remembrance Day. There’s lovely sound design too, and the cast are great. It’s an interesting and surprising take on the story, all the roles are investigated in a different way, so even the creature is in a different form than people might expect.
What type of monster is it? Is it a Boris Karloff or more of a Robert DeNiro?
It’s a monster all of the actors own, and when you see it you will know what I mean! This monster is not as much put together with different parts, but he’s a man who Frankenstein reanimates – but as something other.
Tell us a bit about your other work – were you involved with the Disney Channel at one point?
I was in the Disney Channel’s Bunnytown show with the guy playing the monster – so, we’ve reunited after about 10 years. That’s a weird coincidence! Also, I was in Bunnytown at the same time as I was in Macbeth. It was the weirdest combination, I was messing about with rubber puppets one day and the next I was with Patrick Stewart. It was the sublime to the ridiculous!
Dr Frankenstein will be at the Crucible Theatre between 15th and 25th March.