Gods and Monsters comes to life at Theater Wit

Sun. May 12, 2024 12:00 AM
by Jerry Nunn

Frame of Reference Productions adapts both a book and a movie for the stage while still making the production uniquely its own. This pays off for Gods and Monsters at Theater Wit this spring and hopefully, ticket sales reflect that.

Director Paul Oakley Stovall brings Frankenstein back to life by telling this tale from a Black and queer perspective. Writer Thomas Mullen rejuvenates the text from the 1995 novel Father of Frankenstein in surprising ways by injecting bits of humor into the storyline.

This could have been a risky move and everything could have fallen apart, but the team all did their part to stitch each piece together artistically.

The storyline is similar to the previous work as it follows the final days of film director James Whale who is in lust with his landscaper. The tale takes flight because of ingenuity and resists being heavy-handed. This allows the viewer to reflect on their own personal disparities and breathe.

Scott Westerman personifies James Whale with a gleam in his eye and adds layers to his complicated character.

Clayton Boone could have been a cartoon and instead, Rashun Carter makes him the smartest one in the room within any setting that Boone stumbles into.

How do you solve a problem like Maria Ramirez? Doreen Calderon portrays the judgmental Latina housekeeper with conviction while eerily resembling Lily Tomlin.

The skeleton remains intact from the source material but is fleshed out with statements on racism, class and oppression.

The stage pictures and images convey the cat-and-mouse game that Whale insists on playing with his prey. The creatives behind the set design, projections and lighting should all be commended.

The short running time with no intermission helps make the experience heavenly instead of a beast. This production never wears out its welcome and could even be further adapted to be a musical just like Show Boat. “Life Upon the Wicked Stage” looks good at the Wit these days thanks to Gods and Monsters!

“It's Alive” at Theater Wit, 1229 West Belmont Avenue, from now until June 2. For tickets to Gods and Monsters please visit theater