Gods and Monsters was first a novel – Father of Frankenstein by Christopher Bram. It became the Oscar winning film starring Ian McKellen and Brendan Fraser and now it has its world premiere as a play at the Southwark Playhouse.

The tale of Frankenstein director James Whale’s last few days on earth is sad and unsettling. A once powerful and creative mind is disintegrating fast. Yet despite this the play is also laced with shards of dark humour.

Ian Gelder plays James Whale and captures the pride and the lost talent of a man who did everything his own way – a boy who grew up in the slums of Dudley and ended up filming some of the most iconic horror films of the 20th century. But despite a long and illustrious career, Whale knows the monsters he created – Frankenstein’s Monster and Bride of Frankenstein – will outlive the man.

Father of Frankenstein author Chris Bram says ‘People of my generation first encountered his movies on the Friday night late show: Frankenstein, Bride of Frankenstein, The Invisible Man, and the Old Dark House. We were kids and it was past our bedtime so these movies were like dreams – dark, disturbing, wonderful dreams we could share with friends…’

Gods and Monsters is set in the 1950s. James Whale is now long forgotten by the studios and lives in virtual retirement. A series of strokes has splintered his mind.

Frankenstein director James Whale was openly gay which was very unusual in the 1920s and 1930s. Gardener Clayton Boone (Will Austin) becomes the object of Whale’s disintegrating desire – his last dangerous obsession.

As James Whale’s mind unravels, his past sears through to the present.

Gods and Monsters is a powerful and affecting exploration of memory, desire and the immortality of art.