Sunday, 10 April 2011

Theatrical Interlude 6

Frankenstein (National Theatre, 9th April)

Some might think that seeing one production 3 times in less than a month is a tad excessive, especially when there are so many good productions out there at the moment. In some ways I can see that point but I do feel that I have seen three different performances with this play.

This time it was live at the theatre, rather than on screen. The casting had Johnny Lee Miller as Creature and Benedict Cumberbatch as Victor Frankenstein and no understudies.

This was the first time I'd visited the National Theatre, and the space itself is almost worthy of a blog post. From the outside it does look a little bit of a concrete monstrosity, but then I went to a university made of concrete so I have a soft spot for this sort of building! Inside the first thing we found was a bookshop, which is always a good start. There was live music playing in the foyer and a photographic art exhibition outside the loos (plentiful and clean, always a good sign!).

Frankenstein is playing in the Olivier Theatre which isn't conventionally shaped, and it felt like we were right next to the stage even though we were 10 rows back. Our seats were practically next to the aisle as and actors used this during the performance we really did feel part of the production.

It was nice to be able to see everything on the stage this time, rather than what the cameras were showing. I loved seeing how the scenery moves and how the lights worked etc.

As expected the performance was amazing, I still don't know how the leads find the energy to perform 2 shows a day. Although Creature has more screen time I think that Victor's role is just as intense and to find the stamina to do this day after day is incredible. Various press interviews have hinted at the injuries sustained and from the gusto used yesterday you can all too easily see how this happens.

So was it excessive to see one play three times? Probably, but if I could get my hands on more tickets I'd go again like a shot. And should the National Theatre decide to release the performance on DVD I'll have it on pre-order instantly.

Seeing this has really made me want to see more live theatre (not just musicals), and I already have tickets booked for another 4 plays, plus plans to see at least another 6 as soon as I can get tickets. It is a good thing there are still libraries because with this much theatre my book buying is going to be seriously curtailed!

photo: Catherine Ashmore

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