Sunday 17 June 2012

Frankenstein on Screen

Four days ago we went to see the National Theatre’s production of Frankenstein, staring Benedict Cumberbatch and Jonny Lee Miller, but we didn’t see it at the theatre.

Earlier this year the National Theatre broadcast a live transition of Frankenstein into different cinemas around the country. Four days ago they re-broadcast it and we wert to see it, at the Vue cinema Dagenham.

The production was amazing and full of the theatre magic the National Theatre does so well. The play was written and performed from the point of view of The Creature, rather than Frankenstein, and opened with the painful and disorientating “birth” of The Creature. It portrayed him as someone driven to revenge and murder by the complete rejection he suffers from society just because of his looks. Whereas it portrayed Frankenstein as the arrogant scientist who creates life and then does not know how to handle that responsibility, he’d driven The Creature away as a “mistake” after its birth because it was so deformed, and there he hoped it had died. When The Creature returned to his life, Frankenstein can’t cope with the reasonability of what he’d done.

Benedict Cumberbatch played The Creature as someone trying to regain speech and movement after a brain injury. Jonny Lee Miller played Frankenstein as a strutting and arrogant man laid low by what he has done.

The production was magical and so tightly held our attention, yet it never stopped to preach a “message” at us, instead it concentrated on its dark and gothic story, letting the morality flow out of the story. It also stuck very closely to the plot of Mary Shelley’s book. This wasn’t a simple horror story, but a dark fable about the dangers of science.

The strangest thing, though, was our setting. The Vue Dagenham is a very suburban cinema, mostly showing Hollywood Blockbusters. For that screening of Frankenstein there was only Martin and I in the whole auditorium, which seated about two hundred people. I’ve never been the only person in a cinema before, it felt also decadent, but it also felt a little sad (We were the only people in the area taking the time to see this great production). What we didn’t feel was alone. Frankenstein had been filmed before a sell out audience and we could hear the audience’s reaction to the play. With surround sound it actually felt as if the cinema had a full audience, people laughed at the humour and gasped at the horror.

You can find out more about the National Theatre Live (live broadcasts of their productions) at their website.


Anthropomorphosis Me

We give human traits and personalities to animals and even inanimate objects, its part of our human make up. Claiming our car has human emotions when the damn thing won’t start, or claiming that our dog can understand every word we say, not just “sit” and “food”. I’m certainly not above it, my imagination is very good at doing this.

Last week, we drove into a car park to be greeted by a flock of crows occupying one corner of it. There were about ten to fifteen of them and they were just standing there, not moving and not trying to fly away. There were no cars parked in that area either.

The crows had such a threatening and malevolent presence to them, like a gang of evil thugs guarding their territory. They’d have cut your throat for just looking at them the wrong way. They made me think of East End gangsters, nasty and not to be crossed.

Those crows might have been the most gentle and friendly of birds but their jet black feathers, all the extra and uniform shade of black, their strutting and arrogance stance, simply marked them out as malevolent.

Stood there, in the corner of that car park, the shear presence of those crows pressed themselves into my memory. What were they guarding? Whose evil thugs were they? Who had sent them there and why?

Welcome to my world, were the simplest of sights can set my imagination off into some strange and fanciful places.