When Victor Frankenstein creates a human from various parts of dead bodies he is revolted by the creature and rejects it. The creature, unaware of what has happened to him wanders the countryside wreaking terror to all who see him. Everything he sees is as if he’s seeing it for the first time. He is learning by experiencing. He ends up wandering into Ingolstadt. He ends up attacked by villagers. He flees in terror of people.
Eventually the Creature comes across an old blind man in the woods. Not being able to see he is not frightened by the Creature. The man is De Lacey (Karl Johnson). His son Felix (Daniel Miller) and his daughter-in-law Agatha (Lizzie Winkler) are learning how to be farmers. They spend their days away in the fields. De Lacey teaches the Creature how to talk and how to read. The Creature is intelligent and an excellent student. They have many conversations about life and love. De Lacey wants the Creature to meet his family but the Creature, having experienced too much violent reaction to his appearance refuses. When Felix and Agatha eventually meet the Creature they are repulsed by him and drive him away. In a fit of anger the Creature sets fire to the house killing the entire family.
Once again the Creature ends up wandering. Blaming Victor Frankenstein for his existence the Creature finds Frankenstein’s family in Geneva. He kills Victor’s brother William (Jared Richard/Haydon Downing) to draw Victor out. Confronting Victor he demands that Victor create a bride for him. Victor’s interest is piqued and he agrees to make a woman. But Victor’s thirst for revenge runs deep. When the Creature comes to claim his bride Victor destroys it and vows to destroy the Creature as well. The Creature once again disappears but his own vengeance is blood red. He vows to destroy Victor’s life by destroying what he loves.
“Frankenstein 2011” is a stage play. It was adapted by Nick Dear and is loosely based on Mary Shelley's 1818 novel “Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus”. The play had its world premiere at the Royal National Theatre in England on February 5, 2011. It officially opened February 22nd. The production was directed by Danny Boyle. The production ended its run May 2, 2011. The leading actors of the play are Benedict Cumberbatch and Jonny Lee Miller. During the run the lead actors would switch roles. During one performance Cumberbatch would play the Creature and Miller would play Frankenstein. During the next performance Miller would play the creature and Cumberbatch would play Frankenstein.
On March 17th and March 24th, 2011 the production was broadcast to cinemas around the world as part of the National Theatre Live program. The production returned to theaters worldwide for a limited season in June, July and December of 2012. There were encore screenings of the play in October and November 2013. A third encore screening was done October 25th 2014. In addition another encore screening was done across the U.S. October 22nd and 29th of 2018 in honor of the novel’s 200th anniversary.
Films of the two plays were filmed live and made available as part of the National Theatre's “National Theatre at Home”. The films ran for a week each. The film with Benedict Cumberbatch as the creature was available starting from April 30th 2020, and Jonny Lee Miller as the creature starting from May 1st 2020.
The play starts at the birth of the Creature and is told from the Creature’s perspective. There are other deviations from the original story as well. In the original staging of the production the Creature first emerges from the incubator naked. In order to be televised the addition of a loin cloth was required. The makeup for the Creature took two and a half hours.
Many people preferred Cumberbatch as the Creature. Some went as far as to say they wanted the birth scene where he’s flopping around learning how to walk to last much longer. I’m sure that Cumberbatch being in nothing but a loin cloth had nothing to do with it.
The play is excellent and the performances of both Cumberbatch and Miller are wonderful in both roles. Each one brings their own take on the characters they play. Which one is best at which role will end up being in the eye of the beholder. Having not read the book since I was a teenager I couldn’t tell you how different the theme of the play may be to the actual story but as its own story the play was fascinating.
Both Cumberbatch and Miller played the character Sherlock Holmes. Cumberbatch played the detective in the British television series “Sherlock”. Miller played him in the American television series “Elementary”.
Cumberbatch as Creature
Miller as Creature