Frame Narrative @ Old Fitz Theatre

Verdict: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.5 (reviewed Saturday 16 March).

If I may indulge for just a moment, THIS is the story we needed inspired by Mary Shelley and her Frankenstein. Not Poor Things by trashy Hollywood. (There, I said it).

This production by New Ghosts Theatre Company ticks all my boxes for great feminist theatre: a female-centric story written by a woman directed by a woman.

Frame Narrative written by relative newcomer Emily Sheehan far exceeded my expectations – not knowing which way the story was turning I found myself crying unexpectedly at two pivotal moments. Was it a contemporary re-imagining of Shelley’s gorgeously gothic text? Was it a meta world of a story within a story (within a story)? As the story spiralled into these nooks and crevices of possibilities, I found myself utterly absorbed, hand to mouth at the impending cliffhangers.

This is a play that does not indulge, does not try to show off, does not try to be clever with theatrical gimmicks and politics. It states various points of view, and explores them, never letting the dialogue be heavy or cumbersome. We watch an actress confront her glorified past, being reminded over and over again that she no longer possesses whatever that elusive thing was that made her so great. These reminders, both verbal (from her peers) and visual (in the form of a tormentingly beautiful younger actress) drives her to the point of madness, in a masterpiece Dorian Gray kind of way. But then the play pivots unexpectedly, jarring and settling into another world, another angle, another confronting point of view.

Perhaps the exposition on ‘needing to change the ending’, to give the characters more agency, and therefore maintain their artistic integrity, felt a little superfluous, but I could never write anything as exquisite and heartfelt as this. Let’s just say hell hath no fury as a woman scorned, especially when her own words are being mansplained back to her.

Director Lucy Clements has worked beyond the limits of the stage at Old Fitz, turning it into a wonderful theatrical puzzle, a labyrinthine experience that keeps reflecting back on itself.

The gothic atmosphere with floor to ceiling windows, antique furnishings, thunder and lightning and paranormal moving parts creates the framing of this hauntingly beautiful story, adorned with an extremely talented cast including Charles Upton, Emma Wright, Jennifer Rani, Madeline Li and Megan O’Connell.

Frame Narrative is playing at Old Fitz in Woolloomooloo until 30 March 2024. For tickets and showtimes go to

Images: Phil Erbacher

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