The start of the show is incredible; it starts with the genesis of the Creature as he is birthed on to the floor with a plop, and spends the next 10-15 minutes alone onstage, discovering how his limbs work. As Cumberbatch said in the pre-show interview, he has a full-grown human brain, and learns super-quick. Which is probably part of his downfall; as a child's brain develops, it layers different kinds of understanding and builds on its knowledge. An adult instead tries to smash the puzzle pieces together to make everything fit.
Anyway, it was an incredibly mesmerizing scene to watch. I would challenge any actor who doesn't bother to study any type of movement to create a scene that requires such nuance and stamina. I have one complaint, though; Frankenstein comes in, sees his creature, rejects him, and quickly disappears. I would have liked for them to hold on to that moment just a little bit longer; to see some kind of admission from the doctor that he was completely unprepared for his experiment to actually work.
One of my favorite scenes was of the female creature (Andreea Padurariu), which the Creature has begged his master to make him. You could really see the crazy/inspiration in Miller's eyes as he began to imagine the improvements he could make in his next experiment. Now this is going to sound a little weird, but stick with me. I've always been fascinated by things that should be beautiful, but are marred or twisted in some way (like the dilapidated theater in my icon). The actress playing the Female Creature is an absolute paragon of female physical beauty--Frankenstein trots her out only partially re-animated and wearing only a small loincloth so you can see her perfect curves and angles, accentuated by neat rows of stitch marks along her pallid, dead flesh.
Frankenstein shows the Creature his bride, and asks him what love feels like. "My lungs are on fire, and I feel like I can do anything!" is his reply, and by the angry, haunted look on Frankenstein's face, you can tell that he has no idea what that feels like.
What happens next is that the doctor distracts his creature long enough to destroy his bride--Frankenstein himself is supposed to be getting married. His fiance Elizabeth is lovely, warm and vivacious, and he feels nothing for her. This thing he created understands what it is to experience life better than he does, so Frankenstein denies him the love he cannot feel himself. I found the bride's death oddly beautiful as well, created in silhouette behind the womb-like membrane we saw the Creature born from earlier, which then rotates to show the aftermath of his destruction.
|Photo by Catherine Ashmore- The National Theatre.|
The scene near the end where the Creature seeks revenge on Frankenstein by attacking Elizabeth (Naomie Harris) on their wedding surprised the hell out of me--the Creature was hiding in their bed and I had no idea he was there. It's hard to do a jump-scare on stage, because you have to get out there without anyone seeing you and stay hidden. They did it really well.
And at the end of the show, en route the the North Pole, I felt so bad for Jonny Lee Miller. He shaved his head, and was obviously dripping under his hot wig and frock coat, and then he has to put on this seal fur coat! Poor guy must've been dying.
Well I'm sure I'll have a million more thoughts about this show throughout the day, but I wanted to get these ones written down while they were still in my head. How wonderful to see a show that sticks with you so much!