Danny Boyle offers a more human Frankenstein

– Steven Lawrence contributed with this article

In a series of broadcasts live from the National Theatre in London, Danny Boyle’s production of “Frankenstein”, is truly a play of monstrous capabilities.

In this long awaited performance, the stars Johnny Lee Miller and Benedict Cumberbatch alternate between the roles of the Creature and Dr. Frankenstein in Nick Dear’s adaption of Mary Shelley’s infamous gothic tale, published in 1818.

The production is also important, aside from the pulsating performance, as its a return to theatre for Danny Boyle, and a first time at the National Theatre, as he has been immersed in an assortment of films recently such as; “127 Hours” and the Oscar-Winning “Slumdog Millionaire”.


Photo caption: Danny Boyle's Frankenstein was broadcast live at cinema's across the country. Photo: Alastair Muir

This coincided with the momentous music backing the production, that is equally supernatural from the talents of the electronic duo of Underworld.

From the very beginning of the play, the audience is engrossed into one of the best on-stage performance’s in recent times, it truly has to be seen to be believed. The opening ten minutes of the play are visually monumental, making for a very atmospheric presence of the creatures entrance.

Benedict Cumberbatch’s Creature appears naked and disfigured onto the stage writhing sensationally. As he gradually, yet desperately attempts to find his feet, both physically and metaphorically, make for an enthralling and thrilling spectacle.

Yet, Miller’s Frankenstein is just as captivating, as we find that with his portrayal as a scientist completely uncomprehending of the societal conventions, and is deluded by directly attempting to play God.

In this contrast, it allows the Creature to be perceived as far more human, and ordinary than the extraordinary Dr. Frankenstein. And yet both performances, seem to have been extensively explored in order to make for characters that are seamlessly brought to life.

There is also a fantastic chemistry between both Miller and Cumberbatch, which makes for compelling viewing, when there are scenes that are purely focused on them both, as the mix of compassion and the stoical. Making for very cogent performances from each actor.

What’s more, it’s also refreshing to see an entirely different take from the cliched bolt-necked Boris Karloff interpretation that has been paraded on our screens for decades now. It is a far deeper, sophisticated, and even distorted depiction (at times) of modern genetics.

This production is a throw back to what Shelley had originally intended of the Creature, a monster with a voice, and intelligence, allowing him to be the protagonist of his own story. Cumberbatch’s portrayal of the Creature is something to behold, as the Creature is finally given some humanity.

Whilst others may not agree, and may say it tarnishes the legend of the Creature, its a re-imagining that allows an audience to see the infamous gothic tale in a new enlightened view. As well as being visually stunning. Perhaps then this visual experience will be something that Boyle will want to convey at the London 2012 Olympic Opening Ceremony.

If you get a chance to see this production, you will not regret it.

One Response to Danny Boyle offers a more human Frankenstein

  1. Kirsty says:

    I went to see this last Thursday, at the National Theatre Live where Benedict played the Creature. It was absolutely stunning! I haven’t seen a play this good in a long time.