Tuesday, May 03, 2011
Frankenstein v Frankenstein
Check Todd's blog for other featured items in Tuesday's Overlooked A/V or add your own.
It was impossible to resist the urge to see both versions of the National Theatre's Frankenstein. Benedict Cumberbatch and Jonny Lee Miller rotated the central roles which was fascinating in itself, never mind the rest of the new script by Nick Dear. The new production, directed by Danny Boyle, focuses on the creature to a much greater extent, including a prolonged "birth" scene where he moves from first sentience through an accelerated childhood. It's a real showcase for the actor playing the role and where some of the differences in portrayal appear. Miller's creature was a more feral one, animalistic and somewhat more intimidating. Cumberbatch's seemed to center more on vulnerability (though they both did to a great extent) and discovery. In the pre-show interviews they both mentioned closely observing Miller's toddler Buster for inspiration. I didn't realise that the broadcast version was slightly different than what folks saw most nights on stage, but you can't have everything, eh?
The play has some great moments: the train run by people is a great visual but it gave me the expectation that more of the play would be impressionistic like that. The creature's development remains the focus, so we see his stay with the Laceys more vividly (though Felix's sister and wife have been combined O_o). Naomie Harris has a nice turn as Elizabeth, but there's not much for her to do here other than suffer the more explicit revenge of the creature. I loved how Cumberbatch in particular made Victor so arrogantly clueless. Miller's creator seemed more compassionate, although he was more awkward with Elizabeth. In both cases, it was thoroughly enjoyable and the final stark denouement in the frozen north both touching and grim. A great pair of nights out.
Check in your area for NT broadcasts: so worth it! Next up the fabulous Zoë Wanamaker in The Cherry Orchard. Of course I hope to catch a couple NT shows in London next month.