Review of Frankenstein from Oasis Audio and A.S. Peterson

To be honest, I was skeptical of engaging with the story of Frankenstein at first. I must confess that the popular culture idea of Frankens...

To be honest, I was skeptical of engaging with the story of Frankenstein at first. I must confess that the popular culture idea of Frankenstein as merely a horror story had already poisoned my mind against it, and the horror genre does not pose a lot of interest for me. Perhaps, you were hesitant to click on this review for the same reason. Wait! You, Reader! Come back! It’s hard to get people’s attention who are walking away from a review because of preconceived notions of the story. But stick with me for a few moments, because the story written by Mary Shelley, which is portrayed so well by this Audie-nominated audio drama explores deep and resonating themes, making this story a classic for any time in history, and maybe even particularly for our own time.

In fairness, this may not be something you want to listen to with younger kids, depending on their maturity level because of the intensity and depth of the concepts explored, however, the entire drama is handled tactfully and with taste. Themes of creation, man’s attempt to assume the role of God, the responsibilities of scientific exploration, obsession, relationships, marriage, what it means to be human...all of these are dealt with in different ways. This is one of those dramas that will make you think, and that you could get something different out of every time you listen.

"There is something at work in my soul which I do not understand." Pushing the limits of science and morality in his search for acceptance and purpose, Victor Frankenstein unleashes on the world a creation that he cannot control. To celebrate the 200th anniversary of Mary Shelley's gothic novel, A. S. Peterson (The Battle of Franklin) adapts the tale for the stage and creates an experience that will leave you pondering your own sense of belonging long after the curtain has fallen. Produced with a multi-voice cast in a radio theater style.

The frame narrative the story was told in was brilliant because, in addition to introducing the story in a dramatic setting from the beginning, the context drove home some of the themes that were being hinted at throughout the entire story. The frame story immediately caught my attention and held it, though at first, I was wondering what on earth this had to with the Frankenstein story as I perceived it. An expedition to the North Pole? What is this about? But from Victor comparing himself with the captain from the very beginning to the captain’s decision at the end, the lesson that emerged showed me that it was more than a convenient story-telling technique. It was purposeful.

Morgan Davis, voice of Elizabeth Lavenza
This two-hour audio dramatization is based on a stage adaptation of the classic and as far as production quality goes, Oasis Audio did an incredible job. The post-production was done by Adam Hassel and the sound effects, music, and mix were all very well done. The actors chosen were phenomenal. From the housekeeper to the father to the family the creature encounters in the forest, the talent is without question. The performance that particularly stood out to me was from actress Morgan Davis, who played the role of Elizabeth Lavenza. That character could have been played very one-dimensional and come across as annoying, but the subtext Morgan gave her lent so much to the character. The love Elizabeth truly has for Victor despite his obsession, and the, frankly, infuriating way he treats her, comes across even when she’s frustrated or scolding or trying to set him straight. Her character became one of my favorites, and I truly believe it was because of the actress’s performance. Euriamis Losada plays the monster, and actually demonstrates the emotions and motivations of the character to the point where as listeners we do not recoil as those characters who see him, as we have the same benefit as the blind man in the story of only listening to him, without our perspectives being skewed by his apparently grotesque figure.  Listeners actually feel a sympathy for the monster, which is brought about by both the script-writing and performance of the actor.

Euriamis Losada, voice of The Monster
Photo by Tiffany Kyees - Retrieved from IMDb
One aspect I thought was unnecessary (though the actress did a fine job) was the narrator. I felt that most of the information covered in the narration could have been communicated through dialogue and sound effects, particularly since we already had the frame narrative of Victor and the creature telling the story, thereby rendering the addition of an extra narrator superfluous. As a writer, I can say that I tend to forget the power of sound effects and dialogue to communicate in an audio format, but it can certainly be accomplished, as is evidenced by the many quality audio dramas which do not employ a narrator. It did not necessarily detract from the story, because it set the scenes in people’s minds, however, I could have done without it.

I have never read the actual book this drama was based on because of my misconceptions about the story, but after hearing this adaptation, I am much more inclined to do so. From what I do know of the original novel, however, it would seem that this adaptation streamlined the story to fit the medium quite well. It was a great introduction for someone like me who was unfamiliar enough with the story that I wasn’t even sure whether or not Igor was a character. (Spoiler: he’s not.) The audio drama may also have drawn out some of the Biblical and philosophical themes farther than Shelley originally did, as she was largely irreligious, though the religious themes could not be hidden from a story of this sort. This is a story that naturally lends itself to unearthing aspects of our soul that we may be able to tune out in a sermon or ignore through our busy lives but are forced to reckon with by nature of the stimulating experience of the story.

Hear an Excerpt:

It has been said that “Knowledge is knowing that Frankenstein is the scientist, but wisdom is knowing that Frankenstein is the monster.” That says it well, but the humanity of both the scientist and the monster with mixed motivations are also clearly captured by the script and actors.

In summation, if you have never read the novel, I highly recommend this drama as a great introduction to this classic story.  If you have read the novel, and either loved it or were not impressed, I still recommend this drama.  The writers enhanced themes and shaped this story to highlight themes that may have been present but dormant in the book.  Adapting the story to audio drama as a medium has enhanced the tale itself, in my opinion. This audio drama is an excellent way to enrich your understanding of literature and to explore the rich themes that make us human...or monsters.

Content Advisory: As mentioned above, some of the themes and scenes depicted in this audio drama may not be suitable for younger listeners. Parents are encouraged to preview the production before playing it for young children. There is also a single instance of a mild swear by one of the sailors in the opening scenes.

Purchase your copy of A.S. Peterson's Frankenstein:

Michael Schroeder has been passionate about stories and writing since he was a child. Through helping with short, audio drama skits, acting, and personal writing projects, Michael grew in his love for all things story. He attended the Lamplighter Guild for Creative Disciplines in New York several years in a row to get creative training from masters within the world of Christian audio drama. He resides in Northern Colorado and has been involved in writing, Bible studies, and teaching voice acting with Lost Marbles Theatrics.


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