Frankenstein at London’s Royal National Theatre

7th April 2011, Comments 0 comments

Mary Shelley’s classic gothic tale has been adapted for the stage by Nick Dear and directed by Slumdog Millionaire’s Danny Boyle, the production stars Benedict Cumberbatch and Jonny Lee Miller in alternating roles.

From the moment the play opens with a throbbing red-veined membrane issuing forth a fully-grown grotesquely mutilated creature, the violent, chilling gothic of Mary Shelley's original novel fully engulfs the audience.  I had the opportunity to see this piece live at the National Theatre last month and still have frissons each time I recall Jonny Lee Miller's rendition of the tortured creature.

In a brilliant directorial move, Danny Boyle (director of Slumdog Millionaire) casts Miller and Benedict Cumberbatch each in alternating roles as both the creature and the creature's creator, Dr Frankenstein. In doing so, Boyle plays up Mary Shelley's original themes exploring the blurring of man and monster, and the line between creator and creature.

The staging is equally brilliant and the sound and sight of hundreds of light bulbs buzzing and spinning above stage offer a fitting metaphor for the electrical impulses that gave life to Frankenstein's monster.

The acting is extremely well wrought, and the role of the creature is an incredibly physically demanding one; Jonny Lee Miller's convulsions upon birth make one's own body curl with pain. The play's only weak point lay in the acting of Naomie Harris, who plays Dr Frankenstein's intended bride. Harris was unable to encompass either the role's sexual subtleties nor the intensity of compassion that is called for by Mary Shelley's depiction of the character.

One final note: the main character is seen naked in the play's opening scenes and the piece is not suitable for younger viewers.  

Get more information on performances and live broadcasts in other theatres at the Royal National Theatre website here.

Frankenstein Q&A

EXCLUSIVE Late Night Q&A with director and stars of Frankenstein at the National Theatre in aid of Dramatic Need.

Join us for a spooky Late Night Q&A session for Frankenstein at the Royal National Theatre with Oscar-winning Director Danny Boyle and star actors Jonny Lee Miller and Benedict Cumberbatch discussing the revolutionary interpretation of the Shelley novel. This is the only time that the three will be discussing the project together and to make this event even more MUST SEE, every penny of ticket sales go to Dramatic Need.

The Q&A will start at approximately 10pm (depending on the running of the show), 20 April 2011, in the Olivier Theatre, National Theatre, London.

You can buy tickets for the Frankenstein Q&A here.


Erin Thiessen / Expatica

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