While the world knows Benedict Cumberbatch as an acclaimed TV and film actor, he actually started out in stage plays. The actor continues to be a part of exciting stage productions, one of which is filmmaker Danny Boyle's adaptation of Mary Shelley's classic horror novel Frankenstein. A recording of the play will now be made available for free on Youtube on Thursday April 30, and Friday May 1, on the Nation Theater of London channel.
The play first took to the stage in the National Theater in London back in 2011. Cumberbatch and fellow actor Johnny Lee Miller take turns playing the role of Victor Frankenstein and his abominable creation. The production follows many of the same beats as the original story, but is told from the perspective of the creature that Doctor Frankenstein builds out of decaying body parts culled from corpses.
In his quest to uncover the building blocks of life, Frankenstein succeeds in bringing his grotesque creation to life but abandons his damned spawn in shame at what he had created. The monster is forced to fend for itself, being met with fear and hatred where ever he goes.
The rest of the story follows the creature's quest to gain knowledge and companionship, his growing hatred of his creator, and the terrible acts that hatred drives him to commit. While Frankenstein's Monster is often seen as a Jason Voorhees-type remorseless killer, Shelley's novel very much portrayed him as a wronged being in desperate need of love. And that is also the route the play takes in presenting the character.
The play has drawn praise for its fresh take on the original novel, the performances of the cast, and the lavish stage production used to bring the story to life. Despite the constraints of having everything take place on a single stage, the narrative is packed with action, with the monster's animalistic existence deftly portrayed through physically demanding performances by both Cumberbatch and Miller.
At a time when new movies are in short supply, viewers will welcome this opportunity to witness a new take on one of the most famous horror novels in pop culture, even if most people are already familiar with the basic storyline through having read the novel as part of their high school curriculum.
The last notable movie adaptation of Frankenstein was back in 2014, with I, Frankenstein. Here Aaron Eckhart played the role of the monster, reimagined as a (what else) superhero who battles the forces of hell, that wish to use Frankenstein's formula to reanimate thousands of corpses to act as hosts for the souls of demons, allowing them to take over Earth.
Fans of Cumberbatch will also be happy to see the actor in a new project, especially those still feeling disappointment at the news of his next big project, the Doctor Strange sequel, getting its release date pushed back yet again, along with a host of other MCU films.