Storm Doris is whipping through London on the day Tristan Bernays calls to talk about his new adaptation of Frankenstein.
Not only does the howling soundtrack provide an extra challenge for the interview but also a fitting metaphor for the way he has swept aside much of Mary Shelley’s original prose.
“The hardest part of doing this has been that she was 18 when she wrote it and there’s a lot of waffle and clunky plot points,” said the 32-year-old.
“Stripping all that stuff to get to the heart of the book – the weird father and son relationship between the Creature and Frankenstein – is hard and scary because it is a classic. But you have to be brutal.”
The winds of change have also been blowing through his career of late.
Raised in Northwood, he started as an actor but quit his job two years ago to become a writer, working in the Soho Theatre box office to pay the bills.
He gained public attention and critical acclaim for his play Teddy at Southwark Playhouse in June 2015 and is now working on play Boudica for The Globe, a West End musical Across Broadway and has written biblical inspired play Testament at this year’s Vault festival in Waterloo.
His Frankenstein adaptation was originally written for Watermill Theatre and toured around schools and now comes to Wilton’s Music Hall from March 7-18.
“It’s like a modern day myth and means something to everyone even if you haven’t read the book. So it’s an exciting thing to have a go at.”
The north Londoner has teamed up again with Eleanor Rhode, the director of Teddy.
Their low budget meant they could only afford two actors so George Fletcher plays both Frankenstein and the Creature with Rowena Lennon bringing the other characters to life.
Tristan said: “I remember in Danny Boyle’s seminal production at the National a steam train arrived on stage. But having such a small show forced us to be creative and employ the audience’s imagination.
“Part of the pleasure of theatre is you get to say to the audience ‘look at this broom here, it’s now going to be a sword, and now a tree and now a woman I’m in love with’.
“They just go ‘yep’ and go along with it.
“But if we could afford a steam train, we definitely would put it on stage.”
March 7-18, 7.30pm plus selected 2.30pm, 6.30pm and 9pm shows, £10-£20.
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