I went to see an HD screening of the National Theater’s play — Frankenstein. It was amazing! There is nothing like a monster on the big screen of a Times Square Movie Theater. Although I really would have preferred flying to London to see it live…. back to reality…
Benedict Cumberbatch (yes, the actor playing Sherlock in the new series) and Jonny Lee Miller (who was on Dexter as a scary serial killer a couple of years ago) alternate playing Dr. Frankenstein and the Monster. My friend and I saw Benedict Cumberbatch as the cold and withdrawn Victor Frankenstein. He is haunted, even tortured, by the success of his horrific experiment. He was great.
But it was Jonny Lee Miller as the Monster who captured my sympathy. His performance was extraordinary. He brought to life the monster of Mary’s Shelley original, as opposed to the silent Boris Karloff version or one the many, brought-to-life in-a-lab monsters that followed in Karloffi’s wake.
The movie (or videotaped play) was wonderful and monstrous. The playwright, Nick Dear, went back to the Mary Shelley book for his source material. I’m sure that many people in the theater audience had never read it. It’s not an easy read and the differences between Mary Shelley’s tale of creation and destruction and the one with Igor in a castle, is a long list. I have nothing against Igor, the castle, the angry villagers and the rest of the Frankenstein film iconography. In fact, I love it all. It’s just not part of the original. Nick Dear drew from Mary Shelley’s well and it is shows. The play is startling and the ending in Antarctica with creator and creation locked in an endless duel is perfect.
Danny Boyle directed the play. He’s the artistic director of next month’s Olympic Opening Ceremony in London. I doubt that he has a monster in his plans, but I sort of hope so. He is very good at directing MONSTERS!
If you get a chance to see the HD video, grab it.