Article: Danny Boyle’s Frankenstein wows critics

A lovely article from the BBC website is below, with the highlights of the critic reviews – nice to see such positive reviews for the show!

Danny Boyle’s stage version of Frankenstein has opened at the National Theatre in London with back-to-back press nights.
On Tuesday, Sherlock actor Benedict Cumberbatch played the title role, with Jonny Lee Miller – from Boyle’s 1996 film Trainspotting – portraying the Monster he creates.
The roles were alternated the following night, as they will be throughout the play’s sold-out run.
But what did critics make of Nick Dear’s ambitious adaptation of Mary Shelley’s classic Gothic horror novel?

Daily Express – Paul Callan
This is no Hollywood/Hammer-style version of the old tale with a grunting giant sporting a bolt through his neck.
This creature, liberated by knowledge, is a sensitive intellectual who recites Milton and only wants true love.
Danny Boyle has returned from films to direct and the result is, for the most part, a mesmerising evening.
Yet, despite the action and power of Lee Miller and Cumberbatch’s individual performances, the script often dragged as badly as the Creature’s foot.

The Guardian – Michael Billington
What you get in Danny Boyle’s production and Nick Dear’s adaptation of Mary Shelley’s mythic fable is neither shlock nor satire.
Instead it’s a humane, intelligent retelling of the original story in which much of the focus is on the plight of the obsessive scientist’s sad creation.
The actors complement each other perfectly rather than provide a contest and Boyle’s production is a bravura triumph.
Once or twice the language lapses into bathos. But, on the whole, this a stunning evening.

Daily Telegraph – Charles Spencer
In Danny Boyle’s eagerly awaited production of Frankenstein the show’s stars are alternating the roles of the scientist and the deformed Creature.
Both versions are well worth seeing. Miller, however, strikes me as the more disturbing and poignant monster, while Cumberbatch undoubtedly has the edge as the scientist.
The Frankenstein story has become so familiar that it might seem an impossible task to make the old story seem fresh.
Yet somehow Boyle does just that, constantly creating shocks, spectacular coups de theatre and scenes that tug at the heart.

The Independent – Paul Taylor
Danny Boyle’s extraordinarily haunting production is predicated on the notion of alternating the two leading actors in the roles of Frankenstein and his galvanised handiwork.
The role-reversal makes deep thematic sense because it highlights the irony whereby the son becomes the father, the slave the master.
Broadly speaking, Cumberbatch emphasises the intellectual edge of both roles; Lee Miller takes us further into the feeling.
Cumberbatch is brilliant at conveying the blackly ridiculous aspects of the hubristic Scientist [and] is more horrifying as Frankenstein’s handiwork.

The Times – Libby Purves
It is a hell of a production. This taut, thrilling play runs to its awful conclusion without an interval, indeed with hardly a moment for breath.
Yet it remains, as Mary Shelley intended, basically a work of philosophy, pathos and moral seriousness.
Mark Tildesley’s stunning design and Bruno Poet’s remarkable lighting effects use the Olivier’s vastness with controlled imaginative strength.
I nearly fell out of my seat at the shock bridal-chamber scene. Twice.

SOURCE

Some promotional images have been added to the gallery;

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Theatre Work > 2011 – Frankenstein > Stills

Article: You come off stage exhausted with cuts and bruises

Clutching a bottle of water and a chunk of raw ginger, Benedict Cumberbatch is apologising for what he terms a touch of ‘Franko flu’.

Lesser mortals might recognise his sniffly nose and slightly raspy voice as symptoms of feeling a bit under the weather but you can hardly blame Cumberbatch for viewing a mere cold in epic terms.

Tonight he opens in Danny Boyle’s hugely anticipated theatre production of Frankenstein, sharing with Jonny Lee Miller the roles of Mary Shelley’s scientist Victor and the ‘monster’ he creates from spare body parts.

‘It’s a hard ask on both fronts,’ grins Cumberbatch, who in baggy tracksuit and trainers looks a galaxy away from the dashing, nerdy sleuth TV viewers know him as from the BBC’s new series of Sherlock Holmes.

‘You come off stage with a cut on your lip and a joint out of place, your wrists are bruised and you’ve just shed five pounds of body weight.’

The original idea for casting two actors who would alternate as creator and created was Boyle’s.

He started thinking about adapting Frankenstein with the writer Nick Dear almost 20 years ago before an Oscar-winning film career distracted him.

‘The way the creature starts copying his creator is one of the key narrative drives,’ Boyle says excitedly, his enthusiasm for the show apparently undimmed by weeks of hard-core rehearsal.

‘He is born good and learns evil. They are distorting mirrors of each other, photocopies.’

Today, Shelley’s 1818 masterpiece, which famously began life as part of a ghost story-telling competition with her husband and Lord Byron on the shores of Lake Geneva, has become indelibly associated with its Hammer horror incarnations depicting mad scientists and evil monsters on the loose.

Yet both Boyle and Cumberbatch are keen to release the novel from its Gothic melodrama moorings and emphasise the social and personal context in which it was written.

‘You had this massive burst of the Industrial Revolution, which was really about electricity and the magic of light and life that gave,’ says Cumberbatch, who sees Victor as being in a long line of übermenschen who think they can change the world but destroy themselves in the process.

‘Victor is also motivated by the death of his mother, who died caring for his cousin; he’s also got a very complex relationship with his fiancée Elizabeth, so for him there’s a massive motivation to conquer death in this world of darkness.

‘He see himself as a hero but, by the end, it’s become a suicidal pact.’

‘Mary Shelley had been constantly pregnant in the lead-up to writing the novel and had already lost a child,’ adds Boyle, whose own children were very young when he first started thinking about Frankenstein, and who admits the show has become very personal for him.

‘And here she is writing a novel about this self-obsessed egoist creating life in a way that excludes women.
‘That’s why I wanted to do it on stage rather than on film, because movies have done so much to distort the story. We wanted to give the creature his voice back.’

Cumberbatch, an actor of rare emotional intelligence on stage, and cerebral and charming in the flesh, is quick to bat away any audience preconceptions about how he and Miller might approach both roles.

‘I hate this distinction of me being some f***ing academic who has just managed to escape the allure of some postgraduate course, and Miller as this mad f***ing wild child with dyed hair from Trainspotting,’ he spits.

‘We have different working methods but ever so slightly – we block on the same lines. We’ve got the same sense of humour and think much the same about what’s good and bad.’

Boyle, for his part, draws no distinction at all.

‘I just wanted two stonking actors with the arrogance to feel no fear,’ he laughs.

Did he feel any fear about returning to the stage after so long working in film?

‘I did keep forgetting I wasn’t filming,’ he says.

‘I’d walk up to actors during particularly intense moments in rehearsal as though I had a camera and was trying to get in close. I soon put a stop to that.’

Both Boyle and Cumberbatch see Shelley’s multifaceted novel as being about responsibility.

‘What really goes wrong in this experiment is that Victor doesn’t care for what he’s created,’ points out Cumberbatch.

‘I suppose you could say it’s ultimately a novel about bad parenting.’

Frankenstein opens tonight at the Olivier, National Theatre. It is broadcast into cinemas nationwide as part of NT Live on March 17 and 24.

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Gallery: Mulberry Salon Show

Benedict attended Mulberry Salon Show today, as part of London Fashion Week. He was spotted sat alongside Karen Gillan and Claire Foy, enjoying the fashion show!

Some MQ images have been added to the gallery!

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Events and Appearances > 2011 > February – Mulberry Salon Show – London Fashion Week

News: Sherlock Filming / Airing Information

Sherlock co-creator Mark Gatiss has confirmed a start date for filming of the second series.

It was first announced last August that the detective drama, which stars Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman as a modern-day Holmes and Watson, will return for three more 90-minute stories later this year.

In a new Twitter post, Gatiss wrote: “For those kindly asking, we start shooting the new series of Sherlock in May and will be back on TV in the Autumn.”

Back in October, co-producer Steven Moffat implied that the second run will introduce Holmes’s love interest Irene Adler and depict the great detective’s battle with his nemesis Mortiarty (Andrew Scott) at Reichenbach Falls.

Martin Freeman recently revealed that he was almost forced to turn down a role in Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit to film the new episodes.

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Gallery – Photoshoot additions

A few updates to the Photoshoots section of the site – one album has been updated with more images, an old photoshoot has been added, plus also a photoshoot featuring Benedict alongside Jonny Lee Miller (as part of the Frankenstein promotion, I presume!) which was taken late last year!



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Photoshoots and Sessions > 013
Photoshoots and Sessions > 016
Photoshoots and Sessions > 017

News – Boyle’s ‘Frankenstein’ to screen in cinemas

Danny Boyle’s Frankenstein stage production will screen live in cinemas globally in March, says Deadline.

The play, which is currently in previews at the National Theatre, stars Jonny Lee Miller (Trainspotting) and Benedict Cumberbatch (Sherlock) alternating the role of Victor Frankenstein and The Creature.

Frankenstein will be broadcast live via satellite in high definition in 370 cinemas worldwide on March 17. A second show will screen across the UK and Europe on March 24 so that audiences can compare the performances of Miller and Cumberbatch.

Boyle, whose latest movie 127 Hours earned a ‘Best Picture’ Oscar nomination, will hold two camera rehearsals and have up to eight cameras running on the night of the live cinema transmissions.

The National’s head of digital media David Sabel said of bringing the stage performances to the big screen: “Our biggest problem is always, how can we make this exciting to watch rather than just have one static camera at the back?

“We’re not making a movie, it’s very much the live experience. This doesn’t feel like a piece of theatre that’s being restaged for the cinema – you feel incredibly connected to the live performance. Our US audience is growing quite dramatically.”

Frankenstein’s initial ten-week run in London has already sold out, but has been extended until early May with tickets yet to be made available.

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Gallery – National Television Awards

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Events and Appearances > 2011 > January – National Television Awards

Gallery – The Last Enemy + Event Images

Benedict is currently out, at the Instyle BAFTA Party in London. Some MQ images have been added to the gallery!

I also added screencaptures from Episode 2 of The Last Enemy! Enjoy!

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Events and Appearances > 2011 > January – Instyle BAFTA Party
On Screen > Television Drama > 2008 – The Last Enemy > Episode 02

Article – Cumberbatch admits ‘stealing’ from Miller

Benedict Cumberbatch has admitted to “stealing” from Johnny Lee Miller for their upcoming performances in Danny Boyle’s stage adaptation of Frankenstein.

The actors will alternate in the roles of Frankenstein and the Creature in the production of Mary Shelly’s gothic novel, which opens at the National Theatre for previews on February 5. The play will be broadcast to cinemas around the world on March 17 as part of National Theatre Live.

Miller told The Guardian: “We’re not precious. We find it constructive to talk to each other about what looks good, what doesn’t. We’re more of a team.”

Cumberbatch added: “The dialogue between us is selfless and co-operative. If there’s something really good that he does, I will ask if I can incorporate it.”

While Miller stressed that the pair do not steal ideas from each other, Cumberbatch countered: “There’s no shame in stealing – any actor who says he doesn’t is lying. You steal from everything.”

Explaining the concept behind the idea of switching roles, Boyle said: “Frankenstein is creating life without women. The idea is to bring two actors as close to that notion as possible.

“And how do you do that? In terms of the performance, Frankenstein and the Creature literally create each other: every other night they reinhabit each other.”

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Gallery – Hawking

Screencaptures from the 2004 BBC drama Hawking have been added to the gallery. Benedict plays the main character – Stephen Hawkings.

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On Screen > Television Drama > 2004 – Hawking > Screencaptures