It is very exciting walking into a theatre without any idea what you are about to see. You know the title, but have no sense of how the story will be presented. But sometimes there are hints to what is in store for you. For Frankenstein’s Wake, I know that Holly Holsinger is the principle actor, which means that excellence is sure to follow. And I know that Raymond Bobgan, along with Holsinger, was the co-creator, co-designer, and director of this historic ghost story. So that would mean that every moment of the evening has been infused with vibrant execution and creation.
The performance takes place in the Church that is now a part of the cleveland PUBLIC theatre campus. I am taken with how the interior has been transformed visually to a new and exciting internal venue. Wooden plates on the windows, black sheets at each end of the rectangular floor, amidst white-clothed set pieces. Along with the lighting, it creates a harbouring of something is going down here, and I am going to dig it.
Holsinger begins with a creepy silent opening, black laced, and encircled with haunting vocals. At this point, we don’t know who she is, and that become quite apparent when the question is asked, “Figure it out?!” What we are figuring out at this point is who is our narrator of this story. The story examined here is Mary Shelley’s most famous work ” Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus.” published anonymously when Mary was only 20 years old in 1818. And Holsinger brilliantly takes on the personas of the main characters simply by morphing her body, voice, breathing pattern, and enhancing her dress with subtle costume pieces. A coat and a fascinating addition of makeup are simple, but powerfully introduced augmentations to he core of Holsinger and the character she is creating.
Holsinger is also masterfully physical in her displays of creative emotion and presentation. Balancing a paper on her face, a card on her hat, and a prolific physicality as she maneuvers under, over and on the table is applaudable. However, you’re drawn into the moment of storytelling; you dare not move. You don’t want to run. You actually can’t move, because there is never a moment that isn’t devoured in truth, honesty and intensity. There is never a break from the relentless, focused telling of the tale, as we slowly realize that the monster is not who you think it is.
The confrontation scene played in the middle of the stage makes Jekyll and Hyde look like a puppet show. Searing embattlements are playing out in front of us as one actor twists and turn herself into a vortex of absolute chaos and characterization. Fascinating.
Of tremendous mention, are the three Attendants that add a vocal soundtrack to the show.Whether enhancing a song with Holsinger, or creating vocal atmospheric magic on their own, these three ladies, Chloe Mlinarcik/Penelope, Sarah Moore/Celeste and Shannon Sharkey/Pilar, provide the most stunning and beautiful harmony I have EVER heard at CPT. It is brilliant in its tonality, and coupled with Holsinger’s voice, kicks some serious vocal ass. All arrangements are by Caitlin Lewins (Bellissimo), and unless otherwise noted in the playbill, songs created by Holsinger and Bobgan. If you don’t mind, I would like the ladies to underscore my life
Powerful collaboration to Raymond Bobgan and Holly Holsinger. The two of you are magic. And the spell you cast on the audience is worth everything. Thank you.
THE CREATIVE PRODUCTION TEAM INCLUDES:
Holly Holsinger and Raymond Bobgan- Creators and Designers
Raymond Bobgan- Directed
Caitlin Lewins- Music Director
Sarah Moore- Stage Manager
Brad Krumholz- Specialty Table Designer
$12-$25 General Admission(216) 631-2727 extension 501
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Cleveland Public Theatre (The Church)
6415 Detroit Avenue
Cleveland, Ohio 44102