Review: Frankenstein

F Sa 8pm, Su 2pm. Through 11/19; $17-$22; Chautauqua Playhouse, La Sierra Community Center, 5325 Engle Road in Carmichael; (916) 489-7529;
Rated 3.0

It was a dark and stormy night in Lake Geneva, Switzerland, in 1816, when 18-year-old Mary Shelley (Mary Goodwin at the time) and four others challenged themselves to create a super-scary ghost story. Mary goes first, egged on by the taunts of Percy Bysshe Shelley and Lord Byron that a woman can’t possibly tell a tale as well as a man.

Also there: Mary’s sister-in-law Claire Clairmont and Lord Byron’s personal physician, Dr. John Polidori.

As Mary’s tale unfolds—and it’s a doozy—the others assume roles of characters in her story, illustrating a drama of scientific inquiry, alchemy and the search for immortality. That such immortality will come through the “creation” of life through the reanimation of the dead is the kicker that makes Frankenstein the horror story it is.

Playwright Jerry R. Montoya adapted the story; John Walck directs this production. The cast, not that much older than the author and her friends at the time, features Ariel Elliott as Mary, Jason Kaye as Percy, Jason Titus as Lord Byron, Shoana Hunt as Claire and Chris Jensen as Dr. Polidori (and, memorably, Dr. Victor Frankenstein). As a unit, they completely embrace the style and spirit of the production.