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Review: The National's Frankenstein is mesmerising
I WROTE my dissertation on Mary Shelley's Frankenstein and before last night, depictions I had seen of the monster had always seemed a far cry from what I had read in the novel. But Nick Dear's play of the book, directed by Danny Boyle, was just right- both disturbing and shocking but a focus on the morality of creating the monster.
The amazing play was screened at the Second Space at Aylesbury Waterside Theatre last night.
It was filmed at the National Theatre last year with Benedict Cumberbatch and Jonny Lee Miller. The actors took the roles of Victor Frankenstein and The Monster on alternate nights and I saw it when Miller played the monster.
Initially I wondered how a live production, which doesn't have an interval, would work on the big screen. And although it obviously doesn't feel the same as if you are in the theatre it gives the luxury of seeing the actors facial expressions up close and different camera angles around the theatre.
And the play is so good and so mesmerising that actually I forgot I was sat watching it on a screen. The small audience all gasped and laughed at the same time the audience at The National did.
It starts with a large womb in the middle of the stage and from this comes The Monster (Johnny Lee Miller). Slipping and falling around the stage he struggles to learns how to use his newly acquired muscles as he twitches and spasms.
It is disturbing to watch as Miller is utterly convincing. It is like a child trying to learn how to walk but speeded up as the monster's brain is so advanced.
The audience watch as Frankenstein runs away from his own creation and the monster is scorned by fellow humans as they are revolted at his appearance.
It is only when a blind man, De Lacey, shows him some kindness that he learns to read and speak.
And it is when the monster can talk that the real beauty comes through. He is touchingly eloquent and questions why he was created, why he can't remember and the inconsistency of human beings.
Cumberbatch is excellent in his role as the snobby, righteous scholar and I now really want to see him play the monster.
The set is a sight to behold with a ceiling of lights which flash and shimmer throughout, well designed props and a moving stage.
The music is also glorious- particularly when the sun rises and the monster experiences his first morning.
I was sat on the edge of my seat throughout to the very end when the monster and the creator pursue each other in an unbreaking bond. It is one of the best plays I have seen in a long time.
The National Encore Screening of Frankenstein with Benedict Cumberbatch as the monster and Johnny Lee Miller As Frankenstein on July 19 at 6.45pm. Tickets are £13.50 from 08448717607 or go to www.atgtickets.com/aylesbury
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