Thursday, October 16, 2014

Frankenstein (Cumberbatch)

Imagre courtesy of the National Theatre Website

LtoR: Benedict Cumberbath, Johnny Lee Miller
Tonia, Kelvin and I attended the HD Live Frankenstein performance last night, the one where Benedict Cumberbatch is the creature. This is the version I haven’t seen before, since on alternate nights, Johnny Lee Miller and and Cumberbatch switch roles, and whomever was Frankenstein before, becomes Frankenstein that night.

 We made a pact to go back next Wednesday when the other version will be screened.  This is a show I am going to love twice.

There are many occasions when we see National Theatre Live this way and someone in the party says, “I think that was the best play I have seen in my life”. Last night it was Tonia’s turn to say the phrase.

On the drive home we all tried to say three things that we loved about the performance. Kelvin said that he liked the precision of the dialogue. No word said that didn’t advance the plot. Tonia was amazed at the ability of Cumberbatch to stay in character for the 2 ½ hour performance. She conjoined that with the amazing costuming, a category which included the make-up on the creature's body – the wig, the scarring, the bruising.

I am the person who has already seen the other version last year. I must have seen it alone.   Perhaps with someone else?  It was one of those evenings where I only remember what was going on in front of me on the screen.

Still, I am going back to see that original version next Wednesday, now that version 2 is fresh in my mind. The interaction between the creature and Frankenstein is supported by other vignettes: the coming of mechanization, as illustrated by the scene with the railroad train; the one-room farm house where Frankenstein learns to speak and read; the manufacturing of a human soul and the dark comedic grave-diggers; and the wedding night scene that encapsulating the dictomy of love and hate.

Emma Freud’s pithy introduction set the scene. A small video reminded us of the dangerous inherent in cloning the human body. The three of us had a night to remember.

For more, go read at the National Theatre website.



  1. Must be a great show. Next time I will go.

  2. Argh!! I can't believe I missed the encore!! I have seen the verson where Cumberbatch was the Docotr and have been dying to see him as the monster. Drat! Aaaaaarrrrrggh....

  3. Hi Mary,

    Last night the creature was Johnny Lee Miller. Cumberbatch as the creature was the week before. Kelvin and I got settled into our seats and began to view the Johnny Lee Miller-as-creature version, which I had seen in 2013. There were technicals difficulties in our theatre: three false starts. So we got to see the creature in that first scene before the coming of the railroad train at least three times. When they finally got it going the second time, the dialogue was muffled.

    Third time was the charm, but Kelvin had come on the Access Calgary bus and since the show is only two hours I had booked the pick up time, now allowing for the glitches. Too bad since so many of the episodes are so wonderful. I love the one with the blind man teaching the creature to speak; I love the one where the creature tastes his first food from a pot and learns the words bugger-off; I adore the scene where Frankenstein creates a partner for the creature -- oh, I just love it all. I think we have two classic "takes" that are going to be around for a long time. My guess is that both shows will be back again.