Slowly I learnt the ways of humans: how to ruin, how to hate, how to debase, how to humiliate. And at the feet of my master I learnt the highest of human skills, the skill no other creature owns: I finally learnt how to lie.
This was by far my most anticipated play of the year… Having booked tickets 2 months in advance, I was ecstatic when the day finally arrived that I would see Danny Boyle’s vision of Frankenstein come alive on stage. And come alive it did…
From the opening moment when Jonny Lee Miller flopped around on stage naked as the creature, stripped off everything, bare and exposed, to the closing scene, where we see him evolved to an almost human – he delivered a beautiful charismatic performance making me laugh, cry and simply fall in love with his character. I cannot stress how amazing and genuine he was! Told almost entirely from his viewpoint – he became the beast who was hated on stage but embraced and adored by the audience.
What was most unfortunate however and really made me furious was the remaining atrocious supporting cast – who were not even remotely close to the standard of the National Theatre actors. I have never seen such weak performances in a professional play, a play of such notoriety and with such a huge production. What was Danny Boyle thinking while casting these actors?! It almost mocked and demeaned the high rate – vastly superior performance of the creature.
The production itself was impressive, with a live fire, sparks and rain falling on stage. I sat right at the front and it all seemed very real to me…with JLM gracing me with his extremely close presence on several occasions… but regardless of the brilliant lead performance, the spectacular set & atmospheric visuals, the play was let down by the supporting cast who fell flat and lacked depth. Even Victor Frankenstein was not given the adequate opportunity to develop as a character. The script itself, adapted from Mary Shelley’s novel by Nick Dear was shockingly weak, and regardless of tackling some of the existential questions posed in the original novel, this rendition came off as superficial and amateur. You could almost have a hit with the muted performance of the creature alone, without the drab and shallow dialogues.
Perhaps it was the fact that Benedict Cumberbatch was taken ill that evening and it may have upset the order of things (granted his understudy was not bad at all)… Or perhaps too much work went into perfecting the role of the creature and not enough attention was given to hiring decent actors for the minor roles, but whatever it was, it took so much away from what could have truly been the best play on the London stage!
5* for JLM
3* for the play
1* for the supporting cast