Mary Shelley's magnificent and timeless classic receives the spoken word
treatment that will surely be extremely difficult to surpass. Philpott and
Oliver are truly outstanding in their various tragic declamations whilst
Larkin's Walton provides the perfect link to both in their tragedy of life
and love. One must wonder how Shelley managed to conjure such a futuristic
plot to create one of the greatest stories of all time.
As Duncan Steen tells us in his excellent notes, the author had dreams (or
nightmares) concerned with 'pale students of unhallowed arts' turning in
horror from their 'odious handiwork', a sinister recreation of the grotesque
foraging of Frankenstien in his search for the loathsome material that was
to build his monster, a creation of such despicable ugliness that all the
world would turn against. It is this question of creator versus creation
that is discussed in detail in this novel.
Nicolas Soames chooses the icy romantic music of Tchaikovsky's 'Manfred'
to waft its way through the narrative, and one has to feel for this monster
who in his search for love and companionship is ruthlessly discarded by everyone,
even his own creator. Jonathan Oliver's narration is simply superb, both
for its unhallowed and grotesque savagery and for its deep emotional misery,
two contrasting but at the same time contemporary effects. His method of
revenge is expectedly savage; indeed he destroys all Frankenstien's dearest
loves by murdering his family and leaves the creator in a hellish world,
which finally ends, on a ship in the loneliness of a vast ocean.
As the monster disappears for ever, one is left to ponder on the futility
of man when compared to his creator, and that anyone who tampers with such
holy things is left to bear the consequences at their peril. Naxos' production
is a classic of the spoken word catalogue and should remain as a fine example
of the appeal of this medium to all literary followers.