Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: San Francisco/North Bay

The Creature
Cinnabar Theater
Review by Patrick Thomas | Season Schedule

Also see Patrick's review of The Object Lesson and Richard's reviews of Life Is a Dream and The Nance

The Cast
In the most recent episode of "Real Time with Bill Maher," his closing "New Rules" rant focused on why so many young men engage in violent acts, like the recent mass shooting at a community college in Oregon. It's not bad parenting or violent video games or lack of prayer in schools or even Marilyn Manson. According to Bill, the real reason is "they can't get laid." He cited examples: the Oregon shooter left a manifesto stating he was "going to die girlfriendless and a virgin." The note left behind by the UC Santa Barbara shooter said girls had never been attracted to him and he was "going to punish you all for it." The Virginia Tech shooter stalked women who had no interest in him and Timothy McVeigh "famously never had a date."

This is not a new story, as is being made abundantly clear in Cinnabar Theater's production of The Creature, Bay Area playwright Trevor Allen's take on Mary Shelley's novel "Frankenstein." For it is only when the creature created by the young genius Viktor Frankenstein is spurned by society, teased and tormented because of his appearance that he lashes out. All he wants is what any of us want: to be loved, to have a friend, to share in the company of our fellow beings.

Allen (ably assisted by director Jon Tracy) explores this theme of human connection and abandonment in a way that is both true to the spirit of Shelley's novel, yet still coming at the story in his own way. Though there is plenty of drama here, there's very little action, as the three actors—Robert Parsons as The Creature, Tim Kniffin as Viktor Frankenstein, and Richard Pallaziol as Captain Walton (and others)—spend most of the two+ hours seated on simple black wooden chairs on Jon Tracy's almost infinitely spare set, meant to mimic the arctic ice floes where Shelley's book began and ended.

The first incarnation of The Creature was as a radio play, and the origins show through. This is to be listened to almost as much as it is to be watched. Allen has created a compelling structure for the first act, as Captain Walton sets the scene, and then Frankenstein and his Creature tell the somewhat parallel stories of their childhoods and educations. It's fascinating to discover how similar are their paths—despite being very different in very many ways.

Parsons is wonderful as The Creature, deftly embodying the sense of longing for a connection he can never have. Kniffin is likewise skilled at portraying Dr. Frankenstein not as evil, but simply a brilliant man whose desire to discover out-paced his ability to predict the consequences of his efforts.

This is a beautiful—and spooky—evening of theater, perfect for the Halloween season.

The Creature runs through November 1, 2015, at the Cinnabar Theater, 3333 Petaluma Blvd North, Petaluma. Shows are Fridays and Saturdays at 8:00 p.m., and Sundays at 2:00 p.m. Tickets are $25 general, $15 for those 21 and under. There is a $5 surcharge for the October 31 show. Tickets and additional information are available at or by calling 707-763-8920.

Photo: Eric Chazankin

Cheers - and be sure to Check the lineup of great shows this season in the San Francisco area

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