FRANKENSTEIN, National Theatre 2011, directed by Danny Boyle
JONNY LEE MILLER as The Creature, BENEDICT CUMBERBATCH as Victor Frankenstein. Photo by Catherine Ashmore
FRANKENSTEIN, National Theatre 2011, directed by Danny Boyle JONNY LEE MILLER as The Creature, BENEDICT CUMBERBATCH as Victor Frankenstein. Photo by Catherine Ashmore

Miller shines in moody gothic fable

By Kavish Chetty Time of article published Apr 8, 2011

Share this article:

Frankenstein

DIRECTOR: Danny Boyle

CAST: Jonny Lee Miller, Benedict Cumberbatch

RUNNING TIME: 135 minutes

RATING: ****

The charm of theatre has always been its intimacy; to be able to experience the performance as much as watch it. It’s a curious phenomenon, then, that the National Theatre of London would capture its productions to end up on our local cinema circuit.

So much of the sensory pleasures of the theatre – the immediacy, the acoustics, the hum of the audience – are lost in translation. But the endeavour still does a fantastic job of delivering high-calibre theatre productions to South African viewers.

We’re all familiar with Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein: a scientist is so obsessed with the modern powers of electricity and chemistry that he creates his own human being. Repulsed by his creation, he casts him out into the wild. There Frankenstein’s monster slowly becomes human. He tortuously comes to grips with the use of his limbs. He learns to master his impulses. A blind man teaches him language. But he’s always been the rejected figure, hated for his ugliness, and so the alienated aberration returns to exact his revenge on Dr Frankenstein.

This lesson in human arrogance has lost none of its power. It casts a curious shadow over our sense of human identity and asks the question, as Frankenstein feverishly does in the film’s climax, “Can a man play god?”

Danny Boyle helms the production and gives us a moody and atmospheric take on the gothic parable. The lead actors also do a stunning job of embodying their characters. Benedict Cumberbatch plays the power-hungry scientist full of questing vigour. But the real marvel is Jonny Lee Miller as the monster. An actor with a keen sense of his own body, Miller takes the monster from an inarticulate, limping mess to a cultured and thoughtful being.

The set pieces are awesome. Electric currents surge from an installation of light bulbs over the stage and everything from steam engines to rain and snow takes place upon it.

This Frankenstein is as frightening and lavish as you could expect.

l Frankenstein will be screened at Cinema Nouveau theatres on April 9, 13 and 14 at 7.45pm, and on April 10 at 2.30pm.

Share this article: