WHO’d have thought that the imaginings of a teenaged girl 200 years ago would be spell-binding modern audiences?

When she wrote Frankenstein, Mary Shelley showed an understanding of human nature and the need for love.

April de Angelus adapts her version so well that is hard to appreciate its age.

Imaginatively directed by the Royal Exchange’s former associate artistic director, Matthew Xia the production ensures the power of atmosphere and unexpected special effects.

You wonder who the real monster is. Is it the bloodied creature who breaks through an artificial womb or is it his creator, Victor Frankenstein?

Captain Walton (Ryan Gage ) heads a ship for the North Pole.

He and his crew are taken aback when the near-lifeless body of Frankenstein is rescued from the frozen ocean and he speaks of his monstrous creation.

Frankenstein is played by Shane Zaza, making his Royal Exchange

Debut, who describes expressively the nightmares inflicted on himself by what he has done.

Well done, too, to Shanaya Rafaat, as Elizabeth, the adopted sister and tragic bride of Frankenstein.

The monster has to learn to fight for himself in a hostile environment. In a gigantean display of acting genius Harry Atwell wrings out his heart as he yearns for kindness in an unforgiving world.

But the world reacts aggressively and he suffers cruelty which turn him into a murderer and teaches him how to take revenge.

Nevertheless, you feel sympathy for a creature who basically longs for friendship and a female mate.

We return to the ice bound boat for an ending with a twist in its tale.

You will come out with heart strings tugged because this play is a must see.

• Frankenstein continues at the Royal Exchange Theatre until April 14. For tickets, contact 0161 833 9833 or see royalexchange.co.uk. Star rating:

* * * * *