Part of the NT Live – 17th & 24th March 2011
Cast & Crew
|Creature (alternate shows)||Benedict Cumberbatch|
|Creature (alternate shows)||Jonny Lee Miller|
|De Lacey||Karl Johnson|
|Elizabeth Lavenza||Naomie Harris|
|Female Creature||Andreea Padurariu|
|Victor (alternate shows)||Benedict Cumberbatch|
|Victor (alternate shows)||Jonny Lee Miller|
|Elizabeth Lavenza||Lizzie Winkler
(28th February 2011)
|Costume Designer||Suttirat Anne Larlarb|
|Director of Movement||Toby Sedgwick|
|Lighting Designer||Bruno Poet|
|Music and Soundscore||Underworld|
|Sound Designer||Mike Walker|
I was lucky to get tickets to see this – although it was at the cinema, rather than the theatre, as part of the National Theatre Live programme. This was my first experience of live theatre at the cinema, and it was a lot more impressive than I expected. Only two technical faults (I was at the Shrewsbury cinema – I think other locations may have had other issues), and the camera angles had clearly been carefully planned so the camera operators rarely ‘lost’ their subject.
I was glad that I had previously been to the Olivier Theatre itself – this familiarity with the space meant that I found it easy to orientate myself, and could often imagine that I was actually sat in the theatre rather than a distant cinema. This was especially useful as many of the camera angles were not faithful to the viewing experience of being an audience member – when you’re at the theatre you don’t have the benefit of a bird’s eye view shot, or close-ups, or the ability to track the actors around the space.
That being said I was pleased that there weren’t too many close-ups – for me this kept pulling me out of the theatre experience since I found it far more cinematic than theatrical (opera glasses don’t count).
The performance that I saw had Jonny Lee Miller as the creature and Benedict Cumberbatch as Victor – it would have been very interesting to see the opposite casting as well, but unfortunately the show has been sold out for some time, and tickets at the cinemas are hard to come by as well. However, this was the casting that I wanted to see, and I was certainly not disappointed. Miller showed us the rapid progress of the creature, both mentally and physically, gradually becoming more active and fluid in movement, whereas Cumberbatch was able to bring out Frankenstein’s descent into pride-driven insanity as he struggled to come to terms with the result of his experiments.
Whilst it is to be expected that a play about Frankenstein and his monster would be very much a play about two men, I was disappointed that the female characters were often little more than animated props to further the characterisation of the male leads (whether or not this is a reflection of the novel I don’t know as I haven’t read it, but since Mary Shelley was Mary Wollstonecraft’s daughter I doubt it). Elizabeth does of course make an impassioned speech about how being female should not affect her competence as a human being – brilliantly portrayed by Naomie Harris – but she still ends up a pawn used by both protagonists, and the violent rape that she is subjected to before her murder by the creature was made all the more graphic for cinema viewers by the bird’s eye POV and the close-up. One scene where perhaps actually being in the same room as the action – being further away and seeing it at a more awkward angle – would have made for more comfortable viewing than at the cinema.
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