Thursday, January 17, 2013

Sci-fi theater: Inflatable Frankenstein

Mary Shelley comes online
in Inflatable Frankenstein
photo: Paula Court
Inflatable Frankenstein
Radiohole at the Kitchen
created & performed by Radiohole
January 6, 2013

Impishly, Radiohole starts its newest work where others end, with a post-show discussion. It's a parody of a panel, pitch-perfect, that allows the company both to set out and undercut their high-minded intention to excavate the story of Frankenstein. To capture the multiple perspectives and iterations of the mythos, the company has adopted a fragmentary, cubist structure. Weird scenes and frequently hilarious setpieces examine the themes of creation and creativity. The novel's referenced, of course, and James Whale (director of the 1930s classic films), but so are P-Funk's Dr. Funkenstein & Rocky Horror's Frank-n-furter. IF more or less disposes of the book in that opening panel, passing briskly by its moldy Romanticism and the Werther-like neuroses of its title character. The show's creators seem tickled to abandon the lumbering influence of Karloff as well.

In Radiohole's portrayal, the Creature is rock'n'roll cool, a rebel seeking an identity. He's also an avatar of sci-fi weirdness, an uncanny construct of biomatter. At his entrance, supine, his birthing platform (handcranked from above, naturally) drips goo in long, pale-flesh sheets. The show revolves giddily around a paradox: the Creature is a man without a mother yet his creator was a woman. In this way, Mary Shelley usurps Doctor F as the lead character. If IF is grounded in any meaning (at points, it's so busy and noisy it's almost abstract), it's this shot of feminism. But in technical terms it's also a fusion of man and machine. Rather than ceding control to a tech crew, the cast themselves operate the dazzlingly complex array of multimedia via smartphones embedded in their steampunk costumes. This allows for a spectacular level of control over the stage environment―IF may be the future of experimental theater.


Inflatable Frankenstein plays at the Kitchen, closing on Jan. 19. Tickets?

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