Frankenstein – The National Theatre

Benedict Cumberbatch as Frankenstein and Jonny Lee Miller as the Creature

Earlier in the year I was invited to FACT to see a screening of Danny Boyle’s Frankenstein, performed at the National Theatre. Unless you’ve been living with your head in the sand for the past couple of years you’ll know that this is the production where Jonny Lee Miller and Benedict Cumberbatch alternate between playing Frankenstein and the Creature.

The Creature learning to walk

On the night I saw it Jonny Lee Miller was the Creature and spent the first 20minutes writhing around the floor, learning to stand and then walk. Such physicality must have been exhausting, but the make up stayed in place throughout. Not only that, but, so ambitious was the performance that later on there was a rainstorm on stage, drenching the creature to the skin, yet still the make up stayed perfectly in place.

As for the actual performance, both actors were amazing. Jonny Lee Miller as the Creature was equally grotesque, disturbing and sympathetic, drooling throughout, crying and spluttering and holding nothing back. Cumberbatch played Frankenstein with all the naive arrogance required of the role, making the audience question who the real monster is.

Roles reversed – Benedict Cumberbatch as the Creature and Jonny Lee Miller as Frankenstein.

Apparently it took between 1.5 and 2 hours each night to apply the make up to whichever actor was playing the Creature. I have tried to contact the National Theatre to find out more about the prosthetics, products used and application process but, since the production, the head of make up and wigs has left and been replaced so there is nobody there to answer my questions. If I manage to contact the creator I’ll write another post, but in the meantime I’ll just quietly take my hat off to them.  The Creature was one of the best monsters I’ve seen in a long time.

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