Nearly two hundred years ago 21 year old Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein or The Modern Prometheus was published in France with an anonymous author. Now, across the other side of the world and reconfigured by playwright Nick Dear, Mark Kilmurry’s own creation came to life on the stage of the Sydney Opera House.

The story is well known – through its many corrupted representations – but perhaps the most powerful cautionary tale about the consequences of creation.

All people create:
Families. Food. Conversations. Situations. We make love, connection. We create ideas. We sabotage ourselves and others. And with through our actions we make the world.

We make choices on both tiny whims and under grand unwieldy pressures – every moment of everyday. And the larger impact – beyond our own immediate gratification – can not, and, is not often fully understood. This story draws a firm line around responsibility of creation.

Mark Kilmurry’s production is elegant. Cleanly staged, with a sturdy dose of romantic imagery – the machinery of the production is put in the hands of the actors: we hear sound effects – we see the cellist – we see the work of creation. All aspects of this production sing harmoniously to the matter of the work: what does it mean to create – what do we make with our hands and hearts and minds and bodies – and theatre in it’s transient and physically demanding (and presence-demanding) nature is the perfect vehicle for these ideas… because through its act – we are complicit as an audience in the making of it. This production harnesses the creative energies of designer Simone Romaniuk, Nicholas Higgins (lighting), Peggy Carter (make up), Terri Kibbler (wardrobe), Daryl Wallis (sound), Elena Kats-Chernin (composer), Heather Stratfold (cellist) – and creates an orchestra of feeling: all aspects – all grand perfect artforms in themselves exquisitely executed- converge in a unified force: and this is a grand creation.

The opening image is that of the Creature (Lee Jones) sputtering into live – for what feels like an over extended few minutes: the effort. The agony of living. The physical energy. The physical exhaustion. How marvellous it is that which we all take for granted – the functioning of our bodies. The grand and impossibly complex thing which is a human animal. From there we see the battle of desire and instinct with the cruelty of the ignorance of people. We see reason form – we see friendship shatter. We see the creature confront its maker – as all people do to their parents or god/s or teachers or bosses – in defiance. We see the creature learn of his own power and the strength of choices and what brilliant power autonomy brings.

Beautiful performances by the Ensemble’s cast – Katie Fitchett, Andrew Henry, Lee Jones, Brian Meegan, Michael Rebetzke, Michael Ross, Olivia Stambouliah – nuanced, forceful, and commanding – there is no other ensemble on stage at Sydney at the moment that feel so unified, so ready, so dedicated to storytelling.

Though I am late to tell you about the Opera House performance of this, I must urge you to catch it if you can at the Ensemble Theatre… this is a major artistic coup – one of Sydney’s long-standing, independent and self-sustaining theatre companies – and Kilmurry’s production is all that it should be – elegant, robust, impressive and powerful.