Note: The Hammer Theater provided a double showing of National Theater Live’s production of Frankenstein on October 3 and October 5th, 2018.
One of the sectors of the Bay Area that is among the ongoing commemoration of Frankenstein‘s 200th anniversary is that of Stanford University. With this in mind, as well as the fact that one of the themes of the novel is that of the anatomy, with the addition of what’s been happening in the medical field lately, it should not be surprising that this particular event took place in Herrin Hall, also known as a section of the school that focuses on Biology. Similar to the film festivals our class put together, those in charge of this event treated myself, as well as fellow guests (it was open to the public), presented an adaptation of Frankenstein that hails from the National Theatre in England.
Aside from taking the form of a theatrical production, this specific portrayal went on an approach that I personally believe that various adaptations don’t really do: the story of Frankenstein, as experienced in the eyes of the Creature himself. Starting from the very first page of the prose section of the book (following the fourth of Robert Walton’s letters), every single reader will understand immediately that the entire plot-line is based upon the perspective of Victor’s and his alone, and not of anyone else, but Nick Dear (the play’s writer) did not do that. Instead of starting with a scene of young Victor in his home, we have been immediately sent to the room, where at the same time, the Creature has already been brought to life through the scientific machinations of his creator, Victor Frankenstein (portrayed by Benedict Cumberbatch). Thanks to the brilliant usage of specific bodily movements, actor Johnny Lee Miller (who starred as the Creature), has allowed us to finally have a visual that gives everyone of us a good idea on how it looks like when a “puzzle corpse” is brought too life after some dosages of electrical re-animation.
For instance, I remember seeing the Creature (Miller), struggle with moving different parts of his body, even to the point where he has to teach himself to stand up properly. What should also not be forgotten, in the meantime, are the numerous times when the Creature has had to endure the abusive and uncaring reception inflicted upon him at the hands of normal human beings, all because he looks like a monster in their eyes. In addition, we also got to see how his tuletage under the blind and kindhearted M. De Lacey (the family’s patriarch), served as the one chance for the Creature to go through life with a good heart, which was not to be. All it took was suffering the hateful mistreatment of his child and in-law for the Creature to begin his hatred of humanity, as well as spark the beginning flames of his retribution towards the creator who abandoned him from the very beginning. All in all, National Theatre Live’s Frankenstein has been successful in having the Creature lose his title as being a savage monster to that of a sympathetic and misunderstood being whose motives were formed by the consequences of society’s unwillingness to open their hearts to those who are different from them.
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