I saw his the other day at the National Theatre Live screenings. I thought seeing a film of a live play was a bit of a weird idea but it actually turned out to be a superb evening out. Of course it could be down to the fact that the thing we went to see was absolutely incredible: Danny Boyle very ably directs Benedict Cumberbatch and Jonny Lee Miller in Frankenstein. I really cannot stress how great this was.
Part of the genius of it was having the actors swap roles on alternate nights. One night Miller was Frankenstein, the next it was Cumberbatch. The night we saw it, Cumberbatch was the monster. (This was possibly due to fact that my wife has a bit of crush on him and he is in a loincloth for most of the opening scene.) The idea is that the actor can effectively riff off each other’s performance, subtly affecting each other’s portrayals. You also get a slightly different experience on the two separate nights. What you end up with are two astounding performances from both actors. Miller and Cumberbatch were both superlative in their respective roles reflecting the similarities, contrasts, and underlying bond between Frankenstein and his ‘monster’.
Another big plus for me is that the play was pretty closely based on Mary Shelley’s original book. I studied Frankenstein for my Literature degree and always thought it was a shame Hollywood usually went for a mute and stupid monster, whereas in the original he was smart and erudite and tortured by the self awareness of how he looked and what he was. He was passionate and lonely and wanted to love whereas Frankenstein was cold and aloof and tended to shun company. There are a lot of themes being explored here and it’s intelligently done.
I’m not sure how long the National Theatre will be doing this but if you get a chance to see it, I thoroughly 100% recommend it. You can’t see it on the internet or buy it (which is weird in this day and age), so go and see Frankenstein at your nearest arty cinema.
Links to performances can be found here: http://ntlive.nationaltheatre.org.uk/productions/16546-frankenstein
Here is a trailer:
Here is another: