Last night the National Theater in London beamed a live performance of FRANKENSTEIN out to movie theaters ’round the world. The show has Benedict Cumberbatch of Sherlock as the Creature and Jonny Lee Miller, who we saw in a recent and rather shrill adaptation of Austen’s EMMA, as Victor “Whoops, shouldn’t have gone there!” Frankenstein. The two men trade off the lead roles, and I was glad Cumberbatch was the monster: he did some amazing physical acting, strenuous, fascinating stuff, in the coming-to-life scene. It was unbelievable.
Nick Dear’s script eases us smoothly through all the pivotal scenes in the Mary Shelly novel, but–and this was the show’s only flaw–the dialog was sorely lacking. The characters speeched at each other… and so their emotional connections came off a bit stilted. The actors did what they could to imbue these pedestrian exchanges with more charisma and passion than the words really deserved. And they did rise above. A good actor can lift workmanlike words, after all, and these performances were stunning. The staging, meanwhile, was utterly brilliant and creative. I am so glad I saw it. My brain is filled with happy theater vibes.
On the 31st NTLive is swapping the leads and doing it all again. If you want to see Benedict get his half-mad golden-haired Boy of Science on, there’s still time to get a ticket.
Or, if puppets are more your thing, Superbass and I also saw a preview for an upcoming NT show, War Horse, which I assume will get broadcast next season.