national teater live: frankenstein.

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As I'm writing this this I've just returned from seeing the Danny Boyle & Nick Dear National Theater production of Frankenstein and I'm physically shaking with excitement . To cut a rather long story short I was up in London on a week long college trip at the time of the shows original 2011 theater run, but due to a class of thirty-something students plus an already planned trip we unfortunately didn't get to see it - although we did get to go on an amazing tour of the National Theater and were able to tour a part of the stage and behind the scenes, but that's a story for another day. Cut to Thursday 30th October 2014 and Chantelle, Tia and I are sitting in a packed cinema eagerly waiting with baited breath to finally see the very show that we were so sad to miss.

It was absolutely mind blowing, so much so that I can't think of any other way to describe it, I'm just lost in complete awe. The sheer talent and energy that are injected into the roles of The Creature and Victor Frankenstein is astonishing. I don't think that the entire audience took a breath for the first ten minutes which see a pre-Sherlock Benedict Cumberbatch being physically born on stage from a womb like incubator before making his way around the stage, crawling, clambering and trying in vein to get onto his feet, showing in perfect acting ability an infant creature in it's first precious moments of life.

Director Danny Boyle and writer Nick Deer take the viewer on a truly heartbreaking journey through the eyes of The Creature, literately from his birth and the blissful innocence of childhood to the gut wrenching realization of abandonment, loneliness and corruption. The Director and Writer asks the audience to question what information has been passed down generations to them in regards to religion; are all men created in God's image? and what happens when man himself takes that power and knowledge to thus create a man of his own?

There where times throughout the performance where I was moved to buckets of tears by the events that were unfolding before my very eyes, for behind the monstrous appearance there was just a lonely, scared and passionate man who wanted nothing more out of life than acceptance; a friend who would be somewhat his equal and not run a mile or scream in terror as soon as they clasped eyes on him. At the end of the day this story has been retold countless times, so much so that popular culture have grown to disregard The Creature as nothing more than a brainless zombie who's walking around, arms outstretched like a puppet on a string. However if you strip it all away and most importantly, give him back his voice then you find a different side to the monster with a flat top and bolts in his neck;you find his humanity and his soul and I find that that is a lot more unnerving in a way more so than the classic green skin and groaning. You see, you see this truly innocent and highly brilliant man (and yes at the end of the day The Creature is a man) be corrupted by his environment and society.

Now as I've only seen one of the two double casts, Johnny Lee Miller and Benedict Cumberbatch switched roles every other night, I can't comment on their portrayals as their character counterparts but what I did see was astounding. Hands down it is one of, if not the best pieces of theater that I've seen in years.The portrayal of Johnny Lee Miller as a intelligent, young yet highly fractured scientist is brilliant, especially as he slowly descends in what I assume is madness and terror at the life he has created. Then there is Benedict. Lovely, amazingly talented Benedict. If I didn't already love him lots before then his portrayal as The Creature has just cemented my belief of how ridiculously talented he is. Seriously, give this man all the awards! His ability to capture the empathy of the audience for a widely shunned character is astounding. Despite The Creature doing some pretty horrible things you still root for him as all he is doing is copying and displaying behaviors from those around him. I believe that his first words are "piss off!", learnt from angry drunken villagers he has encountered along the way. I you do see this play then please go and see it for Benedict the fantastic actor, not just "oh that guy from Sherlock" because he's so much more than that!

I don't think that I can actually fault a single thing. The set design was mesmerizing, the actor is phenomenal all round; every single actor and actress give it their all, heart and soul and for just £10 a ticket it was worth every penny. It was like sitting front row of the National Theater, eye level to the actors on stage. We've all said that if we're ever able to see the cast where Johnny Lee Miller is The Creature then we'll be first in line at the box office. I think it would be really interesting to be able to compare each actor's own individual take on the famous characters.

We're already thinking of going to see The Crucible with Richard Armitage (another favorite of mine having performed it for my GCSE Drama) in December and if it's anything like Frankenstein in regards to sheer retelling of a well known story then I can't wait. Now if only National Theater would release Frankenstein onto DVD so I could watch it again and again. Also, if anyone fancies getting me tickets for Benedict's upcoming run in Hamlet then that would be lovely!


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