Gods and Monsters (originally a 1998 film starring Ian McKellen), based on Christopher Bram’s novel Father of Frankenstein, considers the career and fate of James Whale, monumental director, most famous for his adaptation of Frankenstein. The play explores Whale’s life and career and his slow dissolution into obscurity.Once he was known throughout the world, yet if it wasn’t for it’s likely that today only the cine-literate would remember his name. It’s a fate that many in Hollywood must one day endure, and Gods and Monsters examines Whale’s singular experience and reaction. At the play’s outset, we join Whale in the eve of his life, living in semi-obscurity, tired with Hollywood and frustrated, having been pigeon-holed by this one film.
Ian Gelder is fantastic in the central role. He is required to display two very different sides to Whale. There is the side he shows to his guests, which has become a rather grotesque caricature of a slightly lurid and predatory Hollywood homosexual. Gelder gives the sense that Whale has fallen into this role and has now played it for so long it feels like a second skin. Here Gelder captures the sharpness, the hint of danger to Whale’s interactions that gives the play a much needed tension…continues at www.everything-theatre.co.uk
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