National Theatre Live
Noosa Arts Theatre
17 – 18 November 2013
Reviewed by Josh Kirwan
What better way to start a week of work experience in the entertainment industry than to experience some of the world’s best entertainment? Josh was thrilled to have the opportunity on Monday morning to experience Danny Boyle’s magnificent production of Frankenstein, thanks to National Theatre Live, the National Theatre’s groundbreaking project to broadcast to the world the best of British theatre.
And thanks to Noosa Arts Theatre and Fresh Air Entertainment, we’re able to enjoy the National Theatre Live screenings right at our doorstep! How lucky are we?! If you missed Frankenstein, be sure to book tickets for Hamlet and 50 Years On Stage NOW! And keep an eye out for catch-up/encore screenings in 2014 at Noosa Arts Theatre of Coriolanus, Macbeth and Othello.
With the curtains partly drawn to frame the screen, Frankenstein graces the Noosa Arts Theatre with an outstanding “live” performance. For the first time ever, Noosa Arts plays host to Britain’s National Theatre’s live screenings, usually held at Noosa 5 Cinemas. An amazing performance by some of Britain’s leading talents, including Benedict Cumberbatch, star of the BBC TV series Sherlock, and Jonny Lee Miller, star of the CBS series Elementary, perform in Nick Dear’s re-telling of Mary Shelley’s original groundbreaking novel with Danny Boyle sitting in the director’s chair.
Boyle implemented in this production the unique idea of role reversal, with both Cumberbatch and Miller alternating the roles of Dr Victor Frankenstein and The Creature. In an interview he mentioned that he did this so that both actors would have an idea about what drives the other character. However the down side to this tactic is that I am insanely disappointed that I was unable to see the roles switched.
After the screening (with Cumberbatch playing the creature), a gentleman who had seen the other version the night before, explained that The Creature played by Miller was a much harsher character. Respected critic, Michael Billington stated, “Miller’s strength, in contrast, lies in his menace. Stockier than Cumberbatch, his Creature makes you believe in the character’s Satanic impulse and in his capacity for murder”. The gentleman’s statement immediately gave Xanthe a preference towards Cumberbatch’s Creature because (and I whole heartedly agree with her) without the humanity Cumberbatch brings to the role you cannot feel the sympathy for him that makes him a “victim of humanity” throughout the performance.
With Dear’s inspired re-write of the classic story and Boyle’s excellent, direction the performance was bound to be a success, however; the standout element for me was the amazing light display that sat floating above the stage. What had to be hundreds and hundreds of different shaped bulbs all suspended on different lengths of wire would pulse with the brightest light to imitate Frankenstein’s electrifying experiments, and then would sit with just enough illumination to be seen to represent a beautiful night sky. Bruno Poet, Lighting Designer for the production won the 2012 Olivier Award for Best Lighting Design for this work.
Additionally, it is clear that the Set Designer, Mark Tildesley, was familiar with every nook and cranny of the performance space. He obviously knew every little trick that that theatre had up its sleeve and used all of them. The set incorporated a house rising up from out of centre stage, to a little cabin dropping out from the ceiling above, to a steam train rolling out on tracks to the front of the audience. Absolutely spectacular.
We are so very lucky to be able to see work of such calibre here on the Sunshine Coast.
With the nearest big name theatres being in Brisbane it means if we want to watch a high standard performance we usually make the hour-long drive to QPAC, The Powerhouse or La Boite, which not everyone can do. No offense to the community theatre on the Sunshine Coast, but unfortunately not everyone wants to put in the hard yards and produce high quality performances. Most people are just in it for the laughs and to have a good time, which is all well and good but it means that much of the coast isn’t producing top quality shows. This means that an opportunity to view such amazing work should be grabbed by anyone who is even remotely interested in some outstanding entertainment.
Last weekend we saw the five-star Frankenstein performance. Tomorrow (Sunday December 1) at 6:30pm and Monday December 2 at 10:30am we have the opportunity to experience Hamlet starring Rory Kinnear and directed by Nicholas Hytner, I urge anyone and everyone to go and see it. Even if you have no interest in theatre, I guarantee that something on that stage will make you fall in love with the magic of the theatre. But if four hours of Hamlet doesn’t pique your interest, on Sunday December 8 at 6:30pm and Monday December 9 at 10:30am National Theatre’s 50 Years On Stage is screening.
This is a celebration of their last 50 years of performance and will feature famous actors such as Helen Mirren, Judy Dench, Maggie Smith, Derek Jacobi, Michael Gambon, Benedict Cumberbatch and many more. Any other information you need can be found at the Noosa Arts website. The season continues in 2014 so we can catch up on productions missed, including Othello, Macbeth and Corialanus. If these performances are at all close to the calibre of Frankenstein then we are in for some top quality shows.