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24 June 2012


Cineworld, Braintree
Sunday 24th June 2012

Ahead of his Olympic-sized commission in charge of the 2012 Opening Ceremony, Danny Boyle directed this sell-out production of Frankenstein at the National Theatre.  Adapted by Nick Dear, the play tells Mary Shelley's story of the genius young doctor and the creature he brought to life, but turns the story on it's head and begins with showing us the creature's first experiences in the world from his own point of view.

National Theatre Live is an unprecedented scheme for bringing new audiences to the exciting work of the National Theatre.  At cinemas across the country, and the world, screenings of different productions at the NT are shown live as they happen, and Frankenstein was no exception.  Now more than a year on, due to popular demand, the recorded screenings are being shown again for a limited few showings.

In this groundbreaking production, Johnny Lee Miller and Benedict Cumberbatch alternated the roles of Doctor Frankenstein and The Creature.  My screening saw Johnny Lee Miller as The Creature, in an absorbing performance of physical and emotional embodiment.  Electric from his first moments, as we watch him learn to stand and walk, and developing steadily in voice and movement throughout he is entirely captivating.  Unforgettable.  

Benedict Cumberbatch, as the doctor whose brilliance inspired the creation of a monster, was just as mesmerising.  Played with more than a hint of madness beneath the genius, his performance was fraught and exciting.  Supported by a strong cast, the production was everything that should be expected from the National Theatre, and more.

A wonderfully imaginative set manages to be both grand and sparse with ingeniously smooth changes between a variety of locations.  The lightbulb ceiling was beautifully symbolic, and the site of young William's murder around lake Geneva was simple but excellently realised.  The physical theatre used to create the entrance of a train was breathtaking on screen, and must have been even more striking in the theatre.

A fantastic production, which having sold out so quickly last year, it was only possible to see again via the NT Live season of cinematic showings.  Long may this continue.

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