Frankenstein isn’t dead! Thrills and spills, Danny Boyle, Benedict, & Jonny Lee Miller!

The Creature (Benedict Cumberbatch) and Victor Frankenstein (Jonny Lee Miller).
The Creature (Benedict Cumberbatch) and Victor Frankenstein (Jonny Lee Miller).

If you follow me on Twitter and of course you do, you would have seen all the exciting features and pictures of the anniversary of the Fall of the Berlin Wall, and to tell you the truth, I never get sick of Berlin. How can I, when there’s so much to do, so many places to go, and so many things to see?

It’s a privilege to live here ‘cos we get to live in a world-famous historical city, and we also get to participate in critically acclaimed world-wide productions; and one of those productions is that of Frankenstein.

Yes, Frankenstein.

If you thought Frankenstein was dead, archaic, and boring, you can think again because Frankenstein is here to stay!

A few weeks ago, I received a couple of tickets from one of Berlin’s very few cinemas in which you can watch original English Language films. The cinema is called: CineStar Berlin – Original. im Sony Center.

Vanessa Kirby, Gillian Anderson, and Ben Foster in A Streetcar Named Desire. National Theatre Live.
Vanessa Kirby, Gillian Anderson, and Ben Foster in A Streetcar Named Desire. National Theatre Live.

You can watch Hollywood blockbusters, Oscar nominated films, the English Royal Opera Live and live productions from the Metropolitan Opera in New York. Awesome or what?

It’s the cinema that I go to the most and this time I chose to watch a collection of National Theatre Live productions. In September, I watched a thrilling performance of Gillian Anderson, Ben Foster and Vanessa Kirby in the timeless LIVE masterpiece of A Streetcar Named Desire.

Carey Mulligan and Bill Nighy in Skylight at the National Theatre Live.
Carey Mulligan and Bill Nighy in Skylight at the National Theatre Live.

In October, I watched a marvellous performance of Bill Nighy and Carey Mulligan in the highly anticipated LIVE West End production of David Hare’s Skylight. 

Mary Shelley the writer of the very gruesome but fascinating - Frankenstein.
Mary Shelley the writer of the very gruesome but fascinating – Frankenstein.

Just last week, I was enthralled to be able to watch the LIVE thrilling broadcast of Frankenstein, based on the novel of the 19th century English novelist, Mary Shelley.

We are so, so, so lucky to be one of the designated cities to have original productions broadcasted by the English Royal National Theatre. Live. What this means is that you don’t have to go to London to watch these productions and pay through your nose, but you can relax and watch them from the comfy seat of a world-class cinema instead.

So last week, I went to see Frankenstein.

De Lacey (Karl Johnson) and The Creature (Benedict Cumberbatch).
De Lacey (Karl Johnson) and The Creature (Benedict Cumberbatch).

Part of focusing on Berlin is to let you know the type of thing that you can do here, when you visit.

You don’t speak German, I hear you say.

Not to worry. There are plenty of activities that you can do, or places that you can go, with very foreign language skills needed. A little more English perhaps, but if you can read this blog, you’re going to do fine LOL!

The Royal English National Theatre.
The Royal English National Theatre.

WHAT’S THE NATIONAL THEATRE LIVE?

The National Theatre Live is an exciting initiative to broadcast live performances of the best of British theatre, to cinemas in Britain and around the world. Launched in 2009, the National Theatre Live is shown in over 700 cinemas, in 22 countries all around the world. So far, I’ve personally seen six (6) productions and between now and January, 2015, I intend to see three (3) more!

Boris Karloff from the very familiar image of the monster in the 1935 American horror film "The Bride of Frankenstein."
Boris Karloff from the very familiar image of the monster in the 1935 American horror film “The Bride of Frankenstein.”

WHAT IS FRANKENSTEIN ABOUT?

The Creature (Bendedict Cumberbatch).
The Creature (Bendedict Cumberbatch).

Frankenstein or The Modern Prometheus was written in 1818 by the English writer – Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley.

In the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century gothic novels were enormously popular, what with the scandal of Jack the Ripper, Wilkie Collin’s The Woman in White, and Penny Dreadful lurid serial stories. The Georgian era was coming to an end and Victorian England was to begin in less than twenty (20) years, sparking social changes that resulted in increased literacy rates.

England was ripe for something different.

Indeed, Mary Shelley’s romantic horror novel struck a chord. Her book spiced the imagination of the public with a fascinating story of an eccentric scientist called Victor Frankenstein.

Dr. Frankenstein went on a quest to produce a living creature from human parts, and succeeded. He created a grotesque creature in an unorthodox scientific experiment, and genetic manipulation began!

In the shock and admiration of the moment, Dr. Frankenstein initially abandoned his creation out of horror and remorse, and The Creature set out to learn about mankind, and to find his creator.

With childlike innocence but a horrifying grotesque body and look, the bewildered Creature met with cruelty wherever he went, in a thrilling and deeply disturbing, classic, gothic tale.

It didn’t turn out well.

DO I NEED TO UNDERSTAND CLASSIC LITERATURE TO WATCH IT?

The title page of the first edition of Frankenstein, Volume I by Mary Shelley.
The title page of the first edition of Frankenstein, Volume I by Mary Shelley.

Nope!

You don’t need to get the words in order to understand the play. It’s pretty plain to see the anger, the pain, the thrills and the spills. Without giving too much away – this is a production with a difference, as the main actors Benedict and Jonny both play the character and parts of Dr. Victor Frankenstein AND The Creature.

The Creature (Jonny Lee Miller).
The Creature (Jonny Lee Miller).

Last week, Dr. Frankenstein was played by the intense Benedict and the creature by the gorgeous Jonny. On 27.11.14, the parts will be in reverse whereby Dr. Frankenstein will be acted out by Benedict and The Creature by Jonny!

DO I “KNOW” ANYONE?

You sure do. Frankenstein is awash with skilled and talented performers with very high critically acclaim.

Danny Boyle. Photo@ Lucas Jackson - Time.com
Danny Boyle.
Photo@ Lucas Jackson – Time.com

DANNY BOYLE: Well, he’s the Academy Award-winner playwright director of Frankenstein, and also the director of such film projects as Shallow Grave (1995), Trainspotting (1996), The Beach (2000), and Slumdog Millionaire (2008).

Benedict Cumberbatch.
Benedict Cumberbatch.

BENEDICT CUMBERBATCH: Benedict plays both the titles roles of The Creature as well as Victor Frankenstein. He is one of England’s critically acclaimed talents in British theatre and films. Recognised around the world, Benedict did not achieve international recognition until the first series of Sherlock in 2010, but you could already see that he was destined for higher things in Atonement (2007), The Other Boleyn Girl (2008), Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (2011), Star Trek into Darkness (2013), The Hobbit (2012-2014, and Sherlock (2010 – present.

In Britain, he is also known as the The Thinking Woman’s Crumpet!

Victor Frankenstein (Jonny Lee Miller).
Victor Frankenstein (Jonny Lee Miller).

JONNY LEE MILLER: Jonny also plays both the titles roles of Victor Frankenstein as well as  The Creature and is a respected actor. You know him as Sick Boy in Trainspotting (1996), and other excellent productions such as Hackers (1995), Trainspotting of course (1996), Plunkett & Macleane (1999), Mansfield Park (1999), Dexter (2010), and now making waves across the pond, as Sherlock Holmes in the American CBS crime drama: Elementary (2012 – present).

Angelina Jolie as Lara Croft in the film - Tomb Raider.
Angelina Jolie as Lara Croft in the film – Tomb Raider.

And in case you’re wondering, Yes, Jonny. L. Miller is also the ex, and first husband of Angelina Jolie (cheeky fellow, but phwrooah. She’s one helluva hot sexy babe)?!

Victor Frankenstein (Johnny Lee Miller) and Elizabeth Lavenza (Naomie Harris).
Victor Frankenstein (Johnny Lee Miller) and Elizabeth Lavenza (Naomie Harris).

NAOMIE HARRIS: The very beautiful and talented actor Naomie, plays the part of Elizabeth Lavenza, the wife-to-be of Victor Frankenstein. She can be found in 28 Days Later (2002), Pirates of the Caribbean (2006 & 2007), Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom (2013), and as the first person of colour, to play Miss Moneypenny in James Bond’s Skyfall (2012).

The Company.
The Company.

You might not know Karl Johnson who plays De Lacey the blind scholar who teaches The Creature fine manners, etiquette, and the way to be a gentleman, John Stahl who plays Ewan, a local farmer, or even Ella Smith who plays both Clarice a maid, and Gretel, a local prostitute! But I bet you’re familiar with the actor George Harris.

George Harris (M.Frankenstein).
George Harris (M.Frankenstein).

GEORGE HARRIS: George Harris plays M. Frankenstein, Victor’s father. He can be seen in such productions as Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981), Black Hawk Down (2001), Layer Cake (2004), and is most famously known as the very skillful Senior Auror and later, Minister for Magic (following the death of Voldemort), in the Harry Potter films (2007, 2010, and 2011).

Jonny Lee Miller.
Jonny Lee Miller.

MY VERDICT?

Absolutely delightful! I might be biased here but you can never go wrong with a British production!

I am an addict of good literature and historical drama. Watching the theatre in a cinema setting is as good as being at the theatre itself. Whoever coughed up that idea is a clever fellow. Because you can:

  • Watch a theatre production in the comfort of (depending on your ticket), a luxury seat.
  • Wear whatever you want although I noticed a few people dressed up. Mostly, we British people. It’s ingrained in our blood!
  • Sit together as a group of 3 or a group of 20.
  • If you’re really squeezed, you can stretch and walk around in the stairway of the cinema. Somehow, I don’t see that happening in a “real” theatre.
  • You can bring your popcorn, and beer into your seat but for more authenticity, buy wine and brand bottles and glasses about like I did. It’s the theatre sweetie!!
  • Most importantly, quality theatre of the best actors on the British stage for only €18.00, in your own home-town or nearby!
  • Watch the two most modern and inspiring 21st century British actors who both play the role of Sherlock Holmes most successfully in two (2) different TV series (Sherlock and Elementary), do it again. Not only do they meet up as respected artists and working actors, but they also perform together in one dramatic piece, and play the same leading characters on alternative days.

How wonderfully sick is that!

Behind the Scenes at the National Theatre Live.
Behind the Scenes at the National Theatre Live.

WHAT IF FRANKENSTEIN REALLY ISN’T MY CUP OF TEA?

Not to worry. Keep reading my blog. There is more to come!

There are more productions coming up that can be seen at the Cinestar Berlin – Original such as:

  • John. A new play about crime, drug use, and a struggle to survive, containing adult themes, strong language, and nudity. Suitable for 18yrs+ coming up in Berlin on: 08.01.15.
  • Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson is a story of murder, money and mutiny brought to life in a thrilling new stage adaptation. Suitable for 10yrs+ coming up in Berlin on: 22.01.15.

Tickets for the National Theatre Live in Berlin are €18.00 for adults and €13.00 for children, and can be bought online here.

A wonderful bargain!

Approximate running time: About 2 hours.

For more information about Frankenstein, please contact: The National Theatre Live.

For more information about Original English films or productions in Berlin, please contact: CineStar Berlin – Original.

Hello Frankenstein!
Hello Frankenstein!

This article is not sponsored and even though I received a complimentary ticket, all opinions and the lovely wine that I gleefully drank, are my very own!

I have so much to share with you so I will be returning to our adventures in Indonesia, and Qatar, later at the very end of the month!

Next week, I will be writing about the smash-hit tour of the UK and Ireland, LET IT BE a six (6) day exclusive showing of a celebration of The Beatles from 11.11.14 – 16.11.14 at the Admirals Palast.

The next Strictly Stand Up performance at the Quatsch Comedy Club is on 19.11.14 headlined by Terry Alderton (UK), joined by Al Lubel (USA), and Yianni (Australian), and supported by Drew  Portnoy (an up-and-coming American Berlin expat)!

For the rest of the year, Berlin will be celebrating and marking the 25th anniversary of the Fall of the Berlin Wall.

November is going to be delicious!

Watch this space!

Frankenstein of old! http://ihorror.com
Frankenstein of old!
http://ihorror.com

Have you ever been to a National Theatre Live production? Are you frightened of Frankenstein? Team Bendict Cumberbatch or Team Jonny Lee Miller?!

See you in Berlin.

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17 thoughts on “Frankenstein isn’t dead! Thrills and spills, Danny Boyle, Benedict, & Jonny Lee Miller!

  1. wow – this is a hard work to gather and assemble such presentation, images and content, I find this very productive about Frankenstein, the movies, I enjoyed reading an excellent journey! Bravo!

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  2. I must say l have seen about 4 episodes of J.Miller’s show, and liked it. I also liked Cumberbatch in Star Trek, but l am team neither 🙂 . This, however sounds like a great way to spend an evening, and the price is certainly right. I would see it! I would be very frightened though.. I am a big chicken. I like the idea that they alternate the roles , enough to probably see it twice. Good write up !!! 🙂 🙂

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    1. Thanks kemkem! I saw a few episodes on the plane on the way to Asia, and that was how I got to know about it! I like Elementary too. I especially liked the fact that they used a few more British actors and they didn’t try to be the BBC original version of Sherlock. Of course, it’s Sherlock; but it isn’t!

      You’re so right. €18 is a snip! I used to live in London. I know these things LOL! It’s such a clever idea to have both Benedict and Jonny play the leading roles. A very clever idea indeed. 🙂

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    1. It certainly does Phil and I’m freeky enough to not only have enjoyed the performance last week but I’m also watching it again, in reverse, next week! It was amazing to see that talent right before one’s eyes. I mean, Bendeict Cumberbatch is the man of the moment, Jonny Lee Miller is making fantastic waves in the US, Naoemi Harris is a beautiful British actor smashing doors right, left, and center in Pirates of the Caribbean AND as a hot-don’t-mess-with-me-I-have-a-gun-and-I-know-how-to-use-it-awfully-well Miss Moneypenny in James Bond!

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  3. This is an excellent piece with so much information and great pictures! I have been to London but did not get to go to the theater theater there although I am a big theater buff! Growing up in the NYC area I started going to plays and musicals in my early teens and still try to get back there to see them. In Atlanta we have a theater that shows the National Theatre Live so I need to check one of these out. I love the actors and the director!

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    1. Thanks so much for your lovely comments @thesophislife! Yep to London! Yep to NY! And if there’s a National Theatre Live production showing in Atlanta then you’d better get yourself downthere LOL! Honestly, it’s amazing that we still get to see these brilliant productions without having to go to England. I mean, Benedict Cumberbatch, Jonny Lee Miller, and Danny Boyle are world class talent. Go for it!

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