Apr 12 2011 By Siba Matti
Frankenstein Live at Compass
A stage adaptation of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein comes to the Compass Theatre later this month. Former Hayes resident Dominic Goodwin, who plays the creature, tells SIBA MATTI about what promises to be a monster of a show.
WHEN Mary Shelley sat down at her desk in 1818 to pen her infamous literary masterpiece, Frankenstein, she could never have imagined how well the blood-curdling tale would be received.
For almost 200 years later, the gothic horror novel, which explores the grave consequences of meddling with nature, continues to thrill and chill audiences across Britain and beyond.
A recent sell-out production at London's National Theatre, directed by film-maker Danny Boyle and starring Jonny Lee Miller – both of Trainspotting fame – has seen drama fans develop a ferocious appetite for the Victorian classic.
Hot on its heels, Frankenstein Live, a stage show coming to the Compass Theatre later this month, hopes to emulate the same success.
Dominic Goodwin, who plays the doctor's pitiful creation alongside Emmanuel Brierly in a bold, two-man performance, explains: "This is a stand alone show although it is undoubtedly part of the National Theatre's zeitgeist.
"The show has been written by BAFTA-nominated writer Tom Needham, who spent months re-reading the novel again and again.
"The biggest problem we have encountered is that Frankenstein and the monster only meet twice in the book, which wouldn't work for a stage show, so the script has been beefed up but it remains very true to the Shelley's novel.
"We are on a 50-date tour and we have received an extraordinary response at the 17 venues we have visited to date."
Playing such a troubled character has been a challenge for Dominic, who admits he is more accustomed to lighter-hearted roles.
"I recently appeared in Mother Goose and this role is so outside of my comfort zone it's untrue," the 44-year-old tells me.
"The main way to get hold of the character is to reflect on how you would feel when someone turns their back on you. It has to come from the heart.
"The story focuses on the monster's pain after he realises he has been abandoned and left to fend for himself in the wilderness.
"Frankenstein eventually agrees to create a companion for him, but later on he changes his mind and the monster realises he has lost everything.
"The story is gruesome but full of pathos – it's all about heart and passion. The main thing the monster has lost is hope, and for that he wreaks a terrible revenge.
"It has been a challenge playing someone with murderous intent, difficult but also very exciting.
"Some people might say comedy is an easier genre but when the audience is utterly silent, that's when you know they are completely involved in the show, and it's a great feeling."
But Dominic warns that the show is probably not suitable for under 12s – or anyone with a weak stomach.
"The make-up takes at least half an hour to apply, but it is incredibly realistic," he reveals.
"I have a big scar on my face which starts on my head and comes right down my cheek.
"It's made from paint, toilet paper, Copydex glue and little pieces of discarded carpenters glue, which look like pink lumps.
"I also have a revolting fake eye which is a white contact lens with a tiny black dot – it was horrible when I looked in the mirror for the first time!
"The show itself has some pretty gory moments – I won't ruin the surprise but I can tell you it is worth the wait."
Dominic, who grew up in Central Avenue, Hayes, and attended Hayes Manor School, began his career working with local amateur dramatics groups including Argosy Players, Theatre 7 and The Compass Company.
Now living in York, he says he can't wait to return to his old stomping ground.
"My roots are in Hillingdon and my dad still lives in Ruislip, plus I have lots of friends in Uxbridge and Ickenham, so I can't wait to come home.
"I actually visited the Compass last week to attend a memorial event for volunteer Netta Sands, who set up the Encore group and was one of the people who got me into acting.
"Working with her was a real hoot and I have so many happy memories. We laughed so much and I know she is much missed.
"Amateur dramatics groups are a fantastic way to get into a professional acting career – I was aimless before I met Netta and had no idea what I wanted to do for a living but the minute I stepped on the stage, that was it, I finally found something I loved doing.
"For me, even when playing a gruesome character like Frankenstein's monster, it really is the best job in the world."
Frankenstein Live comes to the Compass on Tuesday, April 26 and Wednesday, April 27 at 7.30pm and tickets cost £10. For more information and to book, call the box office on 01895 673200 or visit www.compasstheatre.co.uk