Those who read my Halloween post on Friday will remember I mentioned my plans for the night – I was off to the cinema to see a special screening of Frankenstein. A bit of a different way for me to spend Halloween and I was looking forward to a slight change, although I have to admit part of me was gutted not to be dressing up for the first time in years. But I was hugely looking forward to seeing the stage show on the big screen – directed by Danny Boyle and with the likes of Benedict Cumberbatch and Jonny Lee Miller taking up the leading roles – we were in for a treat! Loaded up with the chocolate I probably should have been giving out to cute little kids in pumpkin costumes, I headed to Lynn’s Majestic Cinema with the boyfriend to check out the show. Rewritten from the classic novel by Mary Shelley by Nick Dear, the production was being screened by National Theatre Live for a limited time, due to unprecedented audience demand. Previously a sell-out hit at the National Theatre in 2011, the production has now become an international sensation, watched by almost half a million people in cinemas around the world.
Of course, any production or film that Danny Boyle works his magic on is usually pretty spectacular, but for me, Frankenstein really showed what a visionary he is. The production shows he sees the potential for everything around us to be spectacular, and that he can translate this from screen to stage with ease and finesse. This was the first time I have seen anything directed by him other than films and the Olympic Opening Ceremony, so I was really excited to see how he would come across on the stage. I couldn’t say I was anything less than blown away – the staging for the production was magnificent and really took the story to a whole new level for the audience. I particularly loved his use of lighting at various points in the show – the use of hundreds of lights above the stage to mimic the movement of electrical currents and emotion. The muted lighting throughout really helped set a sinister tone, and I thought it was hugely effective to use the shadows of the characters almost as characters within themselves during the farmhouse scenes.I was so impressed with the stage itself – not having previously seen any theatre at the National Theatre, I am now chomping at the bit to see a production there. I have seen many stages in my time as a bit of a theatre lover, but none so high-tech and spectacular as this one. I loved the way every part of it came alive, moving and changing with the scenes – it played such a huge part in the show and really added to the pace of the story.
But my favourite part of Frankenstein had to be – as it should be – the relationship between the two lead actors. Wow. For two people who I believe have never acted together before, the pair had incredible chemistry and worked amazingly together. I was gripped from the very first scene – which although in any other situation would have seemed ridiculous and could have brought laughter – was met with dead silence as the audience looked on. You could have heard a pin drop. After having never seen much of Jonny Lee Miller, I was looking forward to seeing what kind of actor he was. While with Benedict Cumberbatch, I had high expectations after having seen and loved him in several films. The pair together was something I was not expecting and I was astonished by how intense the scenes were between them. This is one of the many reasons I love theatre more than film – it is so much more real and you connect with the characters on a different level.One quirk of Frankenstein, and one that I really enjoyed, was the two actors spending a night playing Dr Frankenstein, and another night playing the creature. This swapping of roles gave you a chance to see the pair play two very contrasting characters and trust me, it left you wanting more. We went to see the production starring Cumberbatch as the Creature, and I came out of the cinema desperate to see the alternate show. I still really want to see the show with Lee Miller playing the creature as well because I know he would play the character completely differently. It is a rare thing, to get the opportunity to see such excellent actors switching roles and taking them on with such ease. You could tell how much time and energy had been put into preparing for the performance, which was faultless. The effortlessness of the whole show just showed how much chemistry the pair had – not once did you waver from the story, question it or lose interest – everyone was completely engrossed and I love that about a show. It is so important to be entirely stuck inside the story until the very end, I hate if I watch a show and feel removed from the whole thing – that is when the cast have not done their jobs well. I also really liked the comic element to the story, written into the script were some fantastic lines that had the audience in fits of laughter. Adding to this, Cumberbatch was also very aware of his physicality as the creature – movement was a huge part of his performance and he did very well to turn some of these movements into comedy moments for the audience.
Find out more about the production and where you can see it, by clicking here.
Did you see Frankenstein – what did you think? Which version did you see?