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Queens Chronicle

Frankenstein play starts out fun, ends darkly

Peculiar neighbor changes one couple’s lives forever in ‘Frankenstein Upstairs’ at the Secret Theatre

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Posted: Thursday, June 20, 2013 10:30 am

“Frankenstein Upstairs” humorously and progressively revives bits, but only bits, of a classic story.

The plot of the play, produced by Gideon Productions and running at the Secret Theatre through June 30, centers around a couple, Marisol and Sophie, who work from home as designers and social media consultants.

Dr. Victoria Frankenstein, who goes by Vic, played by Kristen Vaughan, enters their lives when the duo is forced to confront her about their building’s blackouts, caused by something peculiar in her apartment.

They should have known that a doctor with a last name like Frankenstein was up to some funky business. But since the show takes place in modern-day Brooklyn, it’s safe to assume they played it off as a coincidence.

They even invite her over for dinner, recounting how they met at a design conference in Boulder, Colo.

Vic’s visits become more and more frequent. She makes a somewhat creepy comment about how life is about challenging death, but by that point it’s probably too late to stonewall the friend-starved neighbor.

Marisol, played by Diana Oh, gives the doctor a dead mouse that she had inexplicably become attached to and then with a little poison the furry creature plunges the show into living dead territory.

And that’s the end of the completely entertaining first act.

At first the moral of the production, its comment on life, appeared to be how individuals need to know when enough is enough and when to let go.

Especially when Vic says “In my line of work you must strive for perfection but then recognize when you’ve reached it.”

But then it veers away from there going into the second act, which loses a bit of the play’s momentum.

Marisol has a quirky sense of humor that brings much needed lightheartedness to the show. She has overcome a former abusive relationship and empowered herself through kickboxing classes and a biting wit.

She spends her time with Sophie and her best friend, Taylor, a dry-humored writer of sexy novels played by Rob Maitner. He recently to decided shed his pseudonym and instead reveal to his millions of fans that he, a blind, homosexual man, is the writer behind the trashy books.

So it makes sense that the second act loses some of its fun since Marisol spends most of it in a vegetative state. Without her, Sophie, who is overly organized and not up for any deviations from a strict life plan, and Vic rule the scenes.

While Marisol is in need of a doctor’s care Vic becomes an even more constant fixture in the apartment.

This is where the play makes note of Mary Shelley’s novel “Frankenstein.” Vic confesses to Sophie for months she has been listening to the couple through a vent in their ceiling.

In the book, the creature brought to life by Victor Frankenstein and then abandoned learns about human nature by spying on a family through a hole in their cottage wall, as noted in the playwright’s note for “Frankenstein Upstairs.”

Vic asks, “Do you believe you choose your family?”

And as the show progresses it becomes apparent Vic has chosen Marisol and Sophie and it doesn’t matter if they haven’t chosen her back.

This becomes the issue that the couple must address.

Will they allow this pushy person to wedge her way into their lives or must they fight back?

The way they answer this question is a bit dramatic, but hey, it is a play after all.

‘Frankenstein Upstairs’

When: Through June 30, Thursdays to Saturdays at 8 p.m. Sundays at 3 p.m. and Wednesday, June 26 at 8 p.m.

Where: Secret Theatre, 44-02 23rd St., LIC

Tickets: $18, secrettheatre.com

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