FRANKENSTEIN

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FRANKENSTEIN

Postby Barry » Thu Mar 17, 2011 10:48 pm

Frankenstein - NTlive - 17th March 2011

Hurrah I finally got to see this much lauded production, even if on one of these sensational live screenings that happen around the world. Without a doubt, whilst we lose something in atmosphere, we get beyond the best seat in the house, and the camerawork did offer us both spectacular views of the whole stage and scene changes, as well as more intimate shots denied the audience. A very satisfying experience, and if you get to see one of these live screenings do.
Of the production itslef, it had much to say about creation, and responsiblity, and learning from the created - much about the whole process of creation and perhaps the creator not living life to the full - we all can identify with that. But the production was so focussed on giving the creature his voice, literally, and giving him a jaw dropping twenty minute montage alone on stage as he was born, learn to move, to walk, to eat and to experience the elements (and emotions), that it denied Frankensteing himself any involvement. That he was not physically involved or witness to his creation is not only perverse, (and the script does harp on about the relationship and who is who - which is wonderfully embodied in the idea of the actors reversing roles each performance), but it ruins the dramatic symmetry. It would have been so much more satisfying to have echoed the ending where the creature is taking Victor out of the world, in effect, to have had Victor there leading the creature into the world.
Benedict Cumberbach seemed to defy anatomy and natural physics in his performance, twisting and throwing himself about - one can only imagine the physio and bruises. But a lovely arced performance - a real journey. Victor's journey is not so well sketched. The first glimpse, and it is just that , is of him running away fromt he creature, and then he's gone for a long time. But the play is a great series of duets, interrupted by some underwritted characters and some coarse acting indeed.
Scenically, the whole auditorium seems to be draped in grey cloth and dominated by an extraordinary amount of light bulbs pulsing and and flashing - this replaces any visual reference to labs and science - I don't knwo what to make of the design. The reviews have gone on about set piece after set piece, but actually most of the play is done on an empty stage, and effective for that. One large guazy wendy house drops from the flies, Elizabeths' room rises at an angle from the drum revolve, on the other side of which is Victor's cottage where he creates the shortlived female. Ok a train makes a brief appearance, and it rains, and snows, and birds fly up, and there's an effective wooden jetty, but that is about it really.
Yes I was caught up by the story and moved by the plight of the creature and came away thinking many things about the creative process, in its broadest sense, but I certainly don't think it's a great play. It's a clumsy thin play animated by the performance of the creature, and both actors seem to be giving stunning performances.
And then there's the nudity - well for the live screening they saw fit to be more discreet, which rather dulled the idea of being born naked into the world. I'm happy to accept that perhaps the actors felt more exposed and vulnerable by the less subtle lighting, the intrusive close ups afforded by the live screening, and by the permanent nature of a recording, but I am perhaps not so forgiving if this was done for fear of offending audiences around the world upset by the sight of male and female genitals (on display here for a very valid dramatic reason) who by the same taken would seem indifferent to rape and murder.
But all in all I was extremely thrilled to see the production, even if I did have to have a difficult journey across the Pennines to see it. It was certainly more successful than the punk version the Royal Opera House did in the 80's (or 90's) with the creature born out of a huge pin screen,and everyone else dressed by the Emmanuels, still riding on the coat tails of Princess Diana. Nah!
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Re: FRANKENSTEIN

Postby Barry » Wed Mar 23, 2011 5:43 pm

http://blogs.suntimes.com/foreignc/2011 ... stein.html

a great review and some striking photos from the production
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Re: FRANKENSTEIN

Postby kli » Wed May 18, 2011 7:55 am

I saw it via NTLive, too! It was fantastic. Loved seeing both versions of the casting. Cumberbatch was far more specific and nuanced as Victor than Miller, but Miller's Creature was much more playful/childlike/funnier than Cumberbatch's.

Two links for you:

iTunes U podcast from the NT for Frankenstein. One of them is a 40-minute video of the NT Platform with Nick Dear and Danny Boyle.

Channel 4 is going to air a documentary on the production this summer.
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