Thursday, 31 March 2011

In Which There is A Monster

I had hoped that I might be able to get a ticket to see Frankenstein at the National Theatre, but sadly it sold out so fast  I missed my chance.

However, all was not lost, as there were to be two performances filmed and broadcast live to cinemas, and I did manage to get a ticket for one of them, for Thursday evening.

As you may know,one of the features of this particular production is that the actors playing Victor Frankenstein and the Creature are alternating the roles. I saw Benedict Cumberbatch as Frankenstein and Jonny Lee Miller as the Creature, and I would love to see it with the roles reversed, to see how much changes.

The evening didn't start well, as it seems that the cinema had made a mistake and listed the show as starting at 7.30, when in fact it was 7! Luckily, this just meant that I had no time to grab anything to eat bfore the performance started, rather than meaning that I missed the start!

It is  a great play. It is in many ways more faithful to Mary Shelley's original novel than most of the film versions, in particular, the creature has, as in the novel, an articulate voice.. although not to start with!

The play starts with the Creature's "birth" and we then see him in a long, dialogue-free section of the play as he explores his body's capabilities, gradually learning to move, sit, and eventually to walk, and to explore the world around him.

We then see Frankenstein's rejection of his creation, and then the reception which the Creature gets as he goes out into the world. There was a lovely, if slightly inexplicable SteamPunk train, some fancy stage engineering and some unexpected humour to lighten the mood.

Unlike many versions of Frankenstein, this one presents a sympathetic Creature, despite his own murderous behaviour., and challenges Frankenstein's behaviour in creating, and then abandoning the creature. The Creature is the undoubted star of the show., and the issue as to who the monster is remains in question.

I thouroughly enjoyed the play, and I still want to see the live version, and the alternate version with Benedict Cumberbatch as the Creature, and Jonny Lee Miller as Fankenstein.

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