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HAVE you ever been so immersed in something that hours seemingly disappear in seconds?
That was my experience last night when I had the fortune to see National Theatre's breathtaking production of Frankenstein, screened "as live" at Malvern Theatres.
I must confess, for my sins, I have not read Mary Shelley's masterpiece, and so was approaching this production with a pretty basic understanding of the plot, pieced together through parodies and B-movie horrors.
Many will be familiar with the iconic depiction of the Monster as a lumbering, groaning being, barely recognisable as human.
But, as Oscar-winning director Danny Boyle states in an introductory film, in this reimagining the Creature has a voice. And what a voice.
The NT’s Frankenstein is a new play written by Nick Dear and based on Shelley’s tale of man playing God, which was resident at the London playhouse until May last year.
It was recorded as part of NT Live to be screened in theatres across the country and the first run was so successful it returned for an encore.
It stars the enigmatic Benedict Cumberbatch (Sherlock, War Horse) and Jonny Lee Miller (Trainspotting), who alternated the roles of the Creature and Victor Frankenstein during the play’s run.
In this production, Cumberbatch portrayed the Creature, who is “born” into the world a hideous but innocent scientific reinterpretation of man.
Rejected by his creator, the Creature is left to face a hostile world on his own where his difference is met with prejudice and cruelty at almost every turn.
Growing increasingly vengeful, he tracks down his maker and strikes a gruesome deal.
Cumberbatch’s mesmirising portrayal of the Creature has you gripped from the start.
You cannot help but be engaged by his character as he evolves from the childlike product of an experiment into an educated, humourous, elegant and empathetic being.
I found myself willing him to find the acceptance he so desperately sought and the Creature’s humanity made him, and the experiences he encountered, all the more terrifying.
Meanwhile, Lee Miller is also superb as growingly maniacal Frankenstein, both in awe of and abhorred by his experiment. The pair complement each other perfectly.
Couple this with the directorship of the visionary Boyle and an incredible set which features thousands of lightbulbs, rain and a revolving stage, and it is an electrifying two-hours of horror.
If you get the chance, go see it.
•There will be another showing of Frankenstein at Malvern Theatres on July 5 with Lee Miller as The Creature. For more details, visit malvern-theatres.co.uk.
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