February 10, 2011

Reimagining Frankenstein & the shift

“When the morning bright
Lifts away this night
In the light above
We will find our love, we will find our love” Lift me Up Bruce Springsteen

Last night I was lucky enough to see the re-imagining of Frankenstein by Danny Boyle (Trainspotting). I had no expectations. I remembered reading it over a decade ago in high school and I remembered having difficulty finishing it. The only hope I held was that Benedict Cumberbatch would appear as the Creature and he did.
Programme Cover

Benedict Cumberbatch - image copywrite Patrick Fraser
Johnny Lee Miller

The stage is circular in the Olivier Centre, and on the turn table is a wooden structure with a round sac attached to it. Initially, you take no notice of it as it goes around, but as the lights start to change you can see the form of a human body inside. A large, cast iron bell rings, and the roof, covered in various sizes and shapes of light bulb blazes and the figure bursts naked from the sac. We then watch as the newly born figure discovers the outside world, from gaining muscle strength and standing for the first time, seeing the sun, watching birds fly across the sky, discovering the feeling of grass under foot and the surprise at being caught in a sudden down pour. Benedict is masterful in his action.

We follow the Creatures journey as he is taught to speak and read. We watch as he is viciously assaulted by a group of villagers. We watch as he treks to Vienna to once again meet up with his creator, Victor Frankenstein. We watch as he plots, pleads, begs, and kills until in the end the only thing left for him to do is lead his creator further north looking for and begging for death.

'Accursed creator! Why did you form a monster so hideous that even you turned from me in disgust? God, in pity, made man beautiful and alluring, after his own image; but my form is a filthy type of yours, more horrid even from the very resemlance. Satan had his companions, fellow-devils, to admire and encourage him; but I am solitary and abhorred.' Mary Shelley

The stage production requires some work as in parts it was slow and cumbersome. Some of the other actors and actresses in the show could also find value in a few more rehearsals and classes. In particular, the lady playing Elizabeth, Naomie Harris.

Naomie Harris

Some of you will know her better from 28 Days Later or Pirates of the Caribbean.
But in saying this, it does not detract from the performances given by Benedict Cumberbatch and Johnny Lee Miller. Given that I am not one for sentimentalism, I can only say the performance, as a whole, was incredible.

After a show like this, you do note a slight shift in the world. The first shift I noticed was a young woman on the tube, in an incredibly short skirt, who had failed to don underwear for her foray into public. Was given a few glimpses of way to much anatomy for that time of night. The rest of the shift didn’t happen until this morning while on the tube going into work.

Starting later means you’re more likely to get a seat, and it also means you’re more able to pay attention to the literature being read around you. Usually, you see the smattering of Mills & Boon, the Metro, and other pulp novels fashionable at the moment. This morning was a complete contrast.

The lady who took the seat beside me at Manor House was reading the Bible. The gent who sat opposite her opened Salman Rushdie’s “Satanic Verses”. Another lady, a few seats away was reading “The Purpose Driven Life” by Rick Warren. The ladies across from me, of whom this picture is taken, were reading “Philosophy: Jung” and “Anne of Green Gables”. Never before have I seen such themed and eclectic reading material. This is why I do quite enjoy riding the tube (most of the time) and the anthropologist in me loves the exercise of wondering why, and what’s happening today that has brought this mix together.

Jung (L) and Anne of Green Gables (R)
“Books to the ceiling,

Books to the sky,
My pile of books is a mile high.
How I love them! How I need them!
I'll have a long beard by the time I read them.” Arnold Lobel

1 comment:

  1. Umm, you saw Benedict Cumberbatch in real life? SO EXCELLENT.