I have just watched a screening of NTL Frankenstein with Jonny Lee Miller as the Creature and Benedict Cumberbatch as Viktor. And now I have to say something I didn’t really think I’d ever say. Benedict is not the best thing in this play! – because of reasons! And the reasons are the following:
(Warning – spoilers ahead)
1) the focus of the play is the Creature, from the moment of it’s “birth” to the moment it and Viktor disappear. ( I have to start using the pronoun “he” from this point on, it just makes sense)
2) Viktor doesn’t even make a proper appearance for the first 45 minutes or so. (but this is absolutely ok, having in mind reason 1)
3) Miller is simply amazing as the Creature. Miller has this element of physicality about him that makes him the perfect choice for this role. He leads the audience on a journey of growing up, of becoming a “man.” The Creature learns how to use his body, he rejoices at the world around him, he is educated by a wise man, he confronts his creator, he learns from him, outsmarts him.
4) Benedict as Viktor seems like he’s once again playing Sherlock (I’ve borrowed this from my friend, I hope she doesn’t mind).
5) The character of the Creature is written beautifully! The ups and downs, the depth, the animalistic elements… it just all joins together in a wonderful way.
6) did I mention that Miller is amazing!
What I loved about this play was the discussions that the Creature has with different characters. His questions are familiar to the most of us – why do I feel hunger? Why am I not the king? Who made things like they are? How come other people have it easy and I have to work at it? HOW? WHY? and most of all Why do people hate me?
The old man asks him at one point why he is sad, and the Creature answers:Because with all that I read, all that I learn, I discover how much I do not know. Ideas batter me like hailstones. Questions but no answers. Who am I? Where am I from? Do I have a family?
His statements are the thing that really made me think. He reflects on his condition – blamed for something he had no hand in. He struggles to keep a clean heart but is constantly made to witness man’s cruelty toward him and others around him. At one point towards the end he comments that he’s learned so much about being a man“I am good at the art of assimilation. I have watched, and listened, and learnt. At first I knew nothing at all. But I studied the ways of men, and slowly I learnt: how to ruin, how to hate, how to debase, how to humiliate. And at the feet of my master, I learnt the highest of human skills, the skill no other creature owns: I finally learnt how to lie.”
and if you do not see the play and wish to read one line that captures the play and the Creature perfectly, I give it to you here:“I did not ask to be born, but once born, I will fight to live. All life is
precious – even mine.”