Early this year we learned that Oscar winner Danny Boyle would be returning to his theatre roots with a new adaptation of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein for the stage, and as of today we know who will be playing both the Monster and his creator, Dr. Frankenstein. In an interesting twist, two people will be alternating playing the roles.
According to the UK’s Daily Mail Online, Benedict Cumberbatch (pictured, left) and Jonny Lee Miller (pictured, right) will play Mary Shelley’s literary creations on alternate nights at the National Theatre when performances begin in early February on the building’s Olivier stage.
“They’ll share it,” Boyle said. “One night one will be Frankenstein, while the other will play his creator Victor,” adding that sharing the role will keep the production fresh. Also, the show – a major coup for the National and artistic chief Nicholas Hytner – will be told from the monster’s point of view.
The play, written by Nick Dear from Shelley’s famous Gothic novel, will explore the principles of life and examine how something conjured from body parts taken from graveyards and slaughter houses could observe how others live and behave and take on the traits of man: good and bad.
Benedict, 34, has enjoyed a sensational run recently, turning in one of the year’s best performances in Thea Sharrock’s sublime exploration of Terence Rattigan’s After The Dance and taking Arthur Conan Doyle’s legendary sleuth Sherlock Holmes into the 21st century on BBC TV. The drama is now being broadcast in the U.S.
Jonny, 37, has worked with Boyle before, playing Sick Boy in the director’s acclaimed film Trainspotting in 1996. He’s also appeared in this season of “Dexter”.
Frankenstein, which begins rehearsals in early December, will mark Boyle’s return to the theatre after what he called a “15-year distraction” making movies. Danny wants to bring the story-telling knowledge he has garnered during his time behind the camera to the stage: exploring big themes with visual flair but also detailed intimacy.
In the novel people fear Frankenstein’s creation because of his appearance. But the blind man in Shelley’s tale can’t see the creature’s looks and so accepts him. And even though Boyle will keep the drama in the early 19th century, it clearly has 21st-century resonance because society is still troubled by people who differ from what we perceive to be the norm — both politically and cosmetically.
Boyle’s production of Frankenstein will coincide with the new season of “NT Live”, which will be shown in cinemas throughout the UK, and there are also plans for “NT Live” to be screened in cinemas in the US as well.
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