We love our Frankenstein fans. They epitomize what it means to have passion for theatre and the work we all do for the stage. Part of this blog is to give our NT Live audience a platform to share their voice and I’m thrilled we get to chance to profile some of our most passionate NT Live advocates.
We recently ran a contest for Frankenstein and over the summer we will profile those winning entries. First up is Natalia from Homestead, Pennsylvania in the US - enjoy!
Time is a knife, sharp and fast, and there’s no undoing the damage. By the moment I’m aware of Danny Boyle’s theatrical production of “Frankenstein” with a breathtaking duo of Cumberbatch and Miller in it, it’s too late. I curse and wish for a Tardis to spit me out into a chilly London evening of last year’s November. Too late. A recording device will capture what it can, but theater is one of the last outposts of immediate reality in art, of warmth and blood, of genuine contact. In a recording, gone will be dust and velvet, low rumble of wood of stage boards, tiny sounds that bodies make breathing, moving, getting bruised - the warm underbrush of existence that’s only there when you are. Live. Irreproducible. With this, comes the sinking feeling of having missed it irreversibly. It was warm and pulsing. It’s been and gone. No amount of money, no magic trick will bring it back. Good grief, it hurts - I’ll take a recording! But even that isn’t much of a probability at the moment. Regret pushes, edge sharp, against my heart as a friend tells her tale of being there, and again as I shake Simon Annand’s soft hand after he signs his picture of Benedict’s Creature for me - eyes turquoise violence, innocent head in brutal stitches. Impossible. One can’t go back just as one can’t undo a cut.
But then the cut of impossible is stitched. Quiet maybes edging in: Frankenstein has indeed been recorded, and National Theatre Live has plans for it. Then dots appear on the map, blooming fast into constellations. Countless mirrors of movie screens - here? there? where? I take a pencil and connect the Frankenstein points with my own; three fall onto an improbable line of plans and airplanes. I’m going to see it four times, twice each version, on two continents and an island: in a tiny movie theater with a fifty-year old stuttering marquee on the shore of lake Erie, in an Odeon in London, аnd finally in Moscow. In Moscow, where the tickets are on sale today and people in lines beam in delight and gratitude: many missed the theater run not due to any sort of obliviousness, but because they never had a chance to go to England.
Filmed, the play does not become a film. It’s still theatre - in a thieving mirror that’ll steal this and that, abridge the experience, but leave the story intact - and open for infusing life into an inanimate body. I’ll watch it; in a day or two, as if by sympathetic magic of mind and heart, the canvas of the screen will erase itself, and I’ll be left with a dream-like memory of having been there. Not quite there, of course, but there enough to heal the cut of missing it.
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