Monday, May 02, 2011


One of the hottest tickets in London theatre at the moment is a new adaptation of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. It is directed by Danny Boyle and stars Benedict Cumberbatch and Johnny Lee Miller who alternate between playing the the creature and Dr Frankenstein. It has been fantastically well reviewed and you just can't get tickets for it. So I was pleased to see that our local Arts Picturehouse Cinema was doing a live broadcast of it and got tickets to see it yesterday.
Arthouse cinemas often do live broadcasts from theatre, ballet and opera nowadays but I have resisted the temptation simply because I feel that live theatre requires overacting and cinema/tv requires underacting. I love live theatre but I think on the whole a play needs to be adapted to play to film's strengths for it to work at the cinema or on TV.
So my opinion. It is a fantastic play and the two leads were amazing. It sticks fairly closely to the original text and follows the creature learning about humanity and becoming a reasoning being. As in the original text it asks more questions then can be answered and I noticed many a sixth former in the audience obviously doing it for A level.
There is no chance that we would have seen it otherwise but there were times when it was a bit shouty as the actors were throwing their voices to the gods. Also we discovered that it isn't a live broadcast as they interupted it at the beginning as they were playing the wrong version of it (we should have had Cumberbatch as the creature) and the overly liberal cinema manager put it to the vote as to whether we would prefer the other version which would mean starting again. (We stuck with what we had and those unhappy got their money back). Also towards the end the sound left us temporarily. These things were annoying anyway but part of theatre is the willingness to suspend disbelief and to be brought back to earth so suddenly didn't help.
However, where the cinema improved on the theatre is that you got close ups of the actors, which was brilliant and also the music was amazing with Lucas THX sound.
So I am very glad I saw this and would recommend seeing the play in whatever way you can but I'm not too sure I will being rushing to buy tickets to similar "live" broadcasts.

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