Fantasic Frankenstein via Fathom

I’ve always seen the Fathom events trailers before movies but had never had the strong desire to go. That is until I saw that they had produced a play I had wanted to see. Last year they recorded and showed Danny Boyle’s Frankenstein. Lucky for me they did an encore presentation this past week. Although I would have loved to see both performances I am over the moon I got to see it at all. What I find so fascinating  is that the leads played both parts. One night Cumberbatch would be the Creature, the next Miller would be. I saw the latter version, with Jonny Lee Miller as the Creature and Benedict Cumberbatch as Victor Frankenstein.

I went on Thursday (it’s been a busy weekend) and thoroughly enjoyed it. I’ll be honest, I haven’t read Mary Shelly’s original work, but will be reading it soon. All of my ‘knowledge’ of the story is just what I have seen in previous films, and in those the creature could never talk. What I loved about this interpretation was it was told more from the creature’s point of view. We followed his path, from the moment he was brought to life until the end of the play (which did not end with his death for once).

What I loved so much was that it gave me such a different perspective on the story. Before whenever I saw a play or movie about Frankenstein I thought of it purely as entertainment. Also I never really thought poorly of either character (Frankenstein or his creature). It was more a man made a poor choice and it snowballed out of control. However with this play that wasn’t the case.

For the first time I realized that Frankenstein, like all the others, initially turns his back on the creature (again will have to read the source material to see if it’s how Shelly intended it to be, but from now on I’ll stop referencing that unknown and write only of what Boyle brought to life). One of the most heartbreaking parts was towards the end when the Creature is talking to Elizabeth (Frankenstein’s bride). He talks about how he is the master of assimilation and all he has learned. To ‘fit in’ he has had to learn about hate, cruelty, pain…all the worse bits of humanity because that is all that he has been shown. But the part that killed me the most was the way Miller delivered “And from your dear husband I have learned how to lie”. It just struck me as so very sad. This unfortunate creature who didn’t ask to be created, who is genuinely intelligent cast out for looking less then desirable.

That being said, for the first time I felt twinges of disgust for both characters. The Creature’s vindictive nature overruled his love for the blind man when he destroyed them. However they did beat him, and the Creature knew they would not accept them, but the blind man insisted. I was more repulsed by Frankenstein though.  In one scene he has nearly completed the Creature’s bride and asks him if he even knows what blood is. The Creature gives a very human and compelling response considering he has never been shown love (kinship/kindness from the blind man, but not love). All he wants is love and once he, seemingly, convinces Frankenstein he goes to ‘finish’ the second creature. However instead of keeping his word and showing the simplest sign of compassion for the one he abandoned instead betrays the Creature far more than he ever had. He destroys her, in front of him, thus sealing Elizabeth’s fate to. When he ended the Creature’s bride’s life, he thus ended his future bride’s life as well. I had never felt such anger towards Frankenstein before, so that was refreshingly new.

One of the things I was first struck by was the opening scene. Miller comes out of a womb-esque structure and collapses onto the stage. Then for the next ten minutes (or so) works on how he will move. The physicality of the performance just superb. His minute movements, the shudders, the way the glided across the stage so gracefully despite the fact he was propelling himself with only his arms. I was blown away. If you ever get the chance to see it (another encore presentation perhaps?) I strongly urge you to see it. It was simply brilliant and if it ever is released to video I know, without a doubt, I’ll get it. It really does have a timeless quality to it.

So until next time~Q

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