As the National Theatre in London streams this week Frankenstein– different meanings reveal themselves in a strange world we find ourselves in currently.
Having see this show in the Lunario in Mexico City, I vaguely remember why this was one production I could not find a review for. While I had some many eye opening and positive moments in our lives,we all have moments we look back on and see as very difficult times in our lives as well. I recall in one period, despite seeing this brilliant version of Frankenstein, this was a period in my days where I had many bad days and somehow the review I so often made sure to publicize slipped under the radar. Yet, it seemed it was all for a purpose. In seeing Benedict Cimberbatch’s introduction to that spectacular production by Nick Dear, we are lucky enough to see the tie to a current day pandemic.
The brilliant truths that Frankenstein’s creation, played painstakingly by Jonny Lee Miller, comes across hauntingly brings parallels today as we find ourselves in the middle of a pandemic. Learning human nature’s tendency for lies, assimilating to a culture that has so much knowledge of how to hate, how to debase, how to humiliate, how to lie. It is shocking still to see a creation that Dr. Frankenstein never thought to name and to realize the Pandora’s box of qualities that his creation has picked up on human nature. To me, it is a vital lesson that for all the hatred in the world, there is that much more need for counter measures. Ironically enough, in a live online Open Mic last night, in a zoom with over 30 people, some comments came flooding in that were so negative about the looks, the race, the beliefs, the words of some of the performers, that is the ugliness we see with the risks that come with using technology such as zoom, the ugliness of putting down others does have a chance to sneak in. Yet, with every comment, positive comments by all of us in the audience were thrown back and guess what? The individuals departed and instead of countering ugliness in thought for more ugliness in thought, positive one this time.
We have much to change in the light of so much darkness, but a willingness and patience to counter ugliness with beauty, negatives with positives, if we can prevail in taking the higher ground when adverse conditions present themselves, it pushes us forward through a ugly muck and fog that often we cannot see through at times. But in unison, with support and simply a higher respect for life and each other, things have the chance to create a better future. In every moment that Frankenstein’s live acquires more knowledge, we see more growth in what is possible in life as we know it.
Jonny Lee Miller drives the slow progression of Frankentstein’s creation forward in the best possible way I have ever seem and you find yourself holding your breath constantly. The pride and vanity that takes over played as Dr. Frankenstein by Benedict Cumberbatch, while not the only thing that drives this plot, keeps the plot burning and burning. The setting and use of light to represent life and death is brilliantly used, and often the tools used to tie machine and human together are brilliant. Every single support cast characters carries their weight and responsibility as an integral part of the one reminder throughout the whole production, the value of live that can be so taken for granted and yet so essential to not let yourself take every moment for granted. What a powerful lesson in the appropriate time as we find ourselves living in today.
This is so BRILLIANT and powerful – you can see Benedict Cumberbatch play the creature OR Jonny Lee Miller play the creature – and the ability to see this in TWO different characters and yet – the same idea of life, and how taken for granted by creature – or as a master of life- oh what discussions can come of this brilliant variation on the ultimate story of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.