Frankenstein in Love | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

Frankenstein in Love 

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Frankenstein In Love, Urban Legends Production Company, at Live Bait Theater. Promising "harrowing moments," "brief nudity," and "graphic violence," Urban Legends warns that its production is not for the "faint of heart" or the "easily offended." Which has the same effect as warning television viewers of the "graphic sexual content" of the president's videotaped testimony: the payoff can't come close to the buildup.

To be sure, Clive Barker's contemporary spin on Mary Shelley's classic is filled with dismemberments, necrophilia, pedophilia, cannibalism, trephination, and other acts that you make you go "eew." And some of Urban Legends' puppetry is rather effective. But this horror show is more stultifying than terrifying. Barker's saga of the mad doctor and his monstrous lovelorn offspring, which here follows a South American coup, is too jokey and convoluted to create genuine suspense, too ponderous and self-important in its nihilistic pronouncements to be entertaining, and, at three hours, too long to sustain interest. Further, Barker's wiseass, Charles Ludlam-esque Grand Guignol humor makes the purportedly pithy references to Auschwitz, Joseph Mengele, and American support of right-wing dictatorships more tasteless than all the corpses littering the stage at the show's finale.

Stylistically consistent to a fault, Urban Legends' cartoonish production registers as one interminable wail that only grows shriller. This is the sort of play that should come with a warning label--and not the one that's been provided here. --Adam Langer

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