Review: Frankenstein


The Olympic opening ceremony is in safe hands if Danny Boyle brings as much invention to it as he has to his stage version of Mary Shelley's novel.

The Oscar-winning director, and writer Nick Dear, uses every facet of the Olivier's stage to tell one of the most familiar stories in the canon from an unfamiliar point of view – that of the creature, not the creator.

In recognition that each is the other's alter ego, the terrific Benedict Cumberbatch and Jonny Lee Miller alternate in the roles with each performance. Comparisons are inevitable. Cumberbatch is the more convincing scientist, Miller the more compelling creature - the far more demanding role. This crudely stitched man-made man evolves from primitive animal, with limbs flapping like fins as if it had just dragged itself out of primeval soup, to an educated, walking wound of a man, able to quote Milton, yet spurned by humans everywhere.

For much of the evening, Mark Tildesley's superb design dominates. The auditorium walls suggest arctic glaciers; overhead is a mirrored runway with hundreds of bulbs whose glare is intricately controlled by the mother of all dimmer switches.

The are moments when Dear's script falters with a lack of logic. Exactly why Frankenstein is shocked by his creature's looks after spending months stitching it together is never satisfactorily dealt with. But where the creature reveals a humanity far greater than the humans who torment him, the production finds powerful pathos at its core.

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