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Great News for Horror Fans!

One of the best — and most difficult to see — re-tellings of the Frankenstein story is now available on YouTube — but only until 7:00 PM (London time) on May 7 (Cumberbatch’s last performance as The Creature) and May 8 (Miller’s last performance as The Creature).

In 2011 England’s Royal National Theatre put on a production of Frankenstein starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Jonny Lee Miller. One played Dr. Frankenstein; the other played The Creature. Then, the next night they switched roles. This alternate night switching went on for the run of the play. This stage production was directed by the great Danny Boyle (Trainspotting, Slum Dog Millionaire). The brilliant adaptation of Mary Shelley‘s novel, told from The Creature’s point-of-view, is by Nick Dear.

The original stage production was presented live simultaneously in movie theaters all over the United States. One could watch Cumberbatch play The Creature one night, and then the next night one could return to the theater to see Miller perform as The Creature. It was so successful that there were very limited encore screenings in 2012 and 2013. I missed those.

Benedict Cumberbatch and Jonny Lee Miller shared both the Olivier Award and London Evening Standard Award for Best Actor for their respective performances. Cumberbatch also won the Critic’s Circle Theatre Awards’ Best Performance by an Actor in a Play. The play also won the Olivier Award for Best Lighting for the filament light bulb installation designed by Bruno Poet. In 2018, the 200th anniversary of the novel, there was an encore presentation of both versions during Halloween week (we weren’t told in advance which version we’d be seeing). My wife and I caught the Miller-as-The-Creature version. It was absolutely brilliant. My wife (a former actress) declared it to be one of the finest and best-written plays she’d ever scene. Unfortunately, we saw the final screening, so seeing the other version and telling our friends to catch it…well, we were too late.

I kept on the lookout, though. On April 30, as a treat and gift from the Royal National Theatre for all of us COVID-19 sequestered individuals, a filmed version of the play with Cumberbatch as The Creature was released to YouTube with the Miller-as-Creature version debuting the following night (May 1). We watched the Cumberbatch-as-Creature version last night. Incredible! And now you can binge on both back-to-back! Lucky you!

It’s fascinating to watch both versions and observe the differences.

Be sure to catch Benedict Cumberbatch’s two-and-a-half minute introduction to the play elsewhere on YouTube.

My only regret is that, as far as I know, my Frankenstein obsessive pal Bernie Wrightson never got to see either version. I hope I’m wrong!

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