[personal profile] lucybun

 

I'm tired, so I reserve the right to change my mind after I've mulled over the play and after I've had some sleep.  Also, forgive any errors.  My punctuation and grammar aren't the best after midnight..  Also, there are clearly some spoilers ahead. 

First things first, as expected both Cumberbatch and Miller are brilliant.  They are well-matched in this.  Karl Johnson as De Lacey and Naomie Harris as Elizabeth were both stand-outs in the rest of the cast.  The only cast member who I think did anything approaching a poor job was George Harris as Victor's father.  I have to be honest here, I was distracted by his Caribbean accent, but I feel if he'd been doing a better job with the performance I might not have found it so distracting.

I had expected to have some issues with the set design, but I was pleasantly surprised to find that "I ain't bovered."  It was sparse.  It was also tilted in a couple of scenes as some of the sets corkscrew up from underneath the stage.  It was a little odd to see the actors work on a slope like that.   I think the sparsity of the sets was intended so the audience would really focus on the actors, and it was mostly successful in that regard.  Really the only sets that failed for me were the tilted bedroom and drawing room sets where the sloping floors really took me out of the moment.

They spent far too much time on the Creature learning how to move and walk but not nearly enough time showing Victor's reaction to the Creature and why he abandoned him.  It would have been nice if they had borrowed five minutes from the "birth" scene and devoted it to the initial interaction between Victor and his creation. 

Surprisingly, I feel the writing was probably the weakest point of the play.  There are moments of brilliance, but they're mostly provided by John Milton quotes.  There were some lovely humorous moments, but some of the humor fell flat.  I guess I expected more than a cheap laugh over Scottish accents and the Creature's first words being "piss off.".  Also, at one point Elizabeth prays to God to help Victor and it was so painfully awkward and cheesy that  I had to stifle an uncomfortable giggle.   All  I could think of was "Are You There God?  It's Me, Margaret."  It was meant to be earnest and demonstrate Elizabeth's goodness and her love for Victor; it didn't quite come off that way.  There was more than one moment like that which was meant to be serious and earnest but instead came across as kind of corny.  Also, I think they could have better explored why Elizabeth was so devoted to Victor as to put up with his shoddy treatment of her.  I know she was supposed to love him, but that's just taken as a given, and it's never really explained or shown as to why she's so in love with him.  It wasn't even clear to me whether Victor returned that love.  He says he does at one point, but their whole relationship seemed very vague and amorphous, and I don't think that was intentional. 

All that having been said, it really was a very good production.  Other than the initial scene, the pacing was excellent.  A good bit of the humor did hit the mark, and I appreciate that they tried to inject a fair amount of humor into the play.  Also, I loved the way you could see the influence of having played the Creature on JLM's performance as Victor.  You could see some of the Creature's spastic gestures and speech patterns very evident in Victor.  The rape and murder scene of Elizabeth was handled as tastefully as possible, and that scene and its aftermath were truly touching.  Obviously the truly brilliant moments were the scenes between BC and JLM.  They play off of each other beautifully, and the caliber of their performances reached it's pinnacle when they were on the stage together.  The final scene was absolutely heart-wrenching.

On a final note, it was so good I'm definitely going to go see it again with BC as Victor and JLM as the Creature, and not just out of fangirlishness (it's a word now).  As we left the theatre, my sister, who is not a fangirl of Sherlock or BC nor a particular fan of the theatre, said she wants to see the other version with the roles reversed.  That's how good it is. 


Date: 2011-03-18 04:53 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] shouldboverthis.livejournal.com
With the exception of Elizabeth, I totally agree with your review!

Date: 2011-03-19 12:43 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lucybun.livejournal.com
I'm glad. :D What didn't you like about NH's performance? Just curious.

Date: 2011-03-19 03:23 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] shouldboverthis.livejournal.com
I kind of went into it in my review--I didn't believe her emotions--they were far too calm for the things being thrown at her.

Date: 2011-03-19 04:36 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lucybun.livejournal.com
Yeah, I read your review after I asked this. Cart before the horse and all that. Sorry!

Date: 2011-03-18 07:38 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] stellary.livejournal.com
I'm back from watching!
Completely agree with your opinions, down to the poor acting of the father and the tilted platforms (thought I was imagining that).
The "birth" part was way too long, yeah, if it hadn't been BC I'd have probably gotten bored. But as it was, I was enormously impressed by how physical it was and how well BC pulled it off and, shamelessly, I was totally distracted by his, um, bottom. It was just...perky and perfectly round, I could not stop squeeing in my head.
The scenes with the Creature and the old man were sweet and I liked them.
Victor...well, I was mad at him. He was less sympathetic than any of the book or movie version I've seen. He came across as a self-centered, misogynistic liar. When he destroyed "Eve" I truly hated him.
The line I will always remember, "Do not be inconsistent, I find it infuriating." XD
I wonder why they chose to have the Creature not only kill Elizabeth but rape her as well; for the sake of putting in another twist?
I really liked this whole live theater idea though. Will look out for more plays in future.

Date: 2011-03-19 12:38 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lucybun.livejournal.com
My fangirly squealing about BC's ass happened in an email group. I don't know why I was trying to be serious here when I wrote this up. Hell, I wrote a whole story devoted to Sherlock's ass, so I don't know why I didn't sing the praises of the real thing. It is the finest ass I've ever seen on a man. It's really just perfect.

I also agree with you about Victor. I think they were trying very hard to put a different spin on so many other versions of the work that paint the Creature as the true monster. However, I've always interpreted the story with Victor as the "bad guy." But you're right, they almost went overboard with it. Again, I think if they'd showed him being a little kind and loving with Elizabeth it would have humanized him before.

And I agree that if all of the NT films are as well done as this I will definitely see more. I expected the normal static camera in front of the stage that one normally gets from tapes of plays. But the camera work on this was excellent. I don't know if that's from Boyle's work in the movies or if the DP handling the filming of these shows really knows his stuff.

Also, I loved the "inconsistent" line too. He was adorable in that moment.

Date: 2011-03-18 01:21 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] sc010f.livejournal.com
Glad you enjoyed it!

The set is making me really curious now.

Wish I could've gone - would totally have fangirled with you (were you up in Daytona?), but: school night, plus baby = no play. :(

Date: 2011-03-19 12:30 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lucybun.livejournal.com
I hate you missed it too! It was really enjoyable on top of the delicious fangirly moments (of which there were plenty). There is another showing in Vero Beach on the 31st. I think I'm going to go see that one too, so maybe I'll see you there.

Date: 2011-03-23 08:43 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] irisbleufic.livejournal.com
They spent far too much time on the Creature learning how to move and walk but not nearly enough time showing Victor's reaction to the Creature and why he abandoned him.

You know, that's a very accurate assessment of the beginning of the show; I was amazed that they didn't spend more time on Victor's reaction and the abandonment. Otherwise, I found the cast on the whole pretty tight. I've heard a lot of people comment on Harris's accent as a distraction, but for some reason, I didn't find it an obstacle :)

Date: 2011-03-23 09:37 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lucybun.livejournal.com
Harris was very wooden during the performance I saw. I'm sure part of that perception comes largely from the fact that BC and JLM are so extraordinary that even a good performance can appear lackluster next to them. I don't think I would have given a second thought to his accent if his performance had been better. That having been said, I've seen him in other things, and he's clearly an excellent actor. I really think the screening I saw just caught him on a bad night.

Date: 2011-03-29 12:20 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] mariemjs.livejournal.com
Jumping in on this (hope it's ok), but no, Harris is definitely bad EVERY time... Probably one of the worst casting decision I've seen in the West End in a while... I've seen the play a few times now and every time I cringe when he delivers his lines, always hoping he'll be better but no, he's not... A shame, really.

Date: 2011-03-29 09:05 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lucybun.livejournal.com
Of course it's ok for you to jump in! However, I hate to hear that Harris is bad every time. I'm going to go see the "reverse" version (JLM as Creature) day after tomorrow, and I was really hoping his performance would be better. He seemed preoccupied or almost disconnected from some of his scenes in the screening I saw. That is a shame. Oh well, at least he's not in it much. BTW, I'm green with envy that you've gotten to see the live version of the play a few times.

Complete aside, Atlinmerrick says you're the awesomest gal ever, and I love all your work. Okay, fan flail over.

Date: 2011-03-30 12:53 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] mariemjs.livejournal.com
Yeah, I'll make an OT here, but I'm one of those people who don't say too loud that I've seen the play 5 times on stage and one time on NT live... I'm a theater geek, I do tend to see the plays I like many times (I bought those tickets way back in November, cheap seats for 12£, I'm a priority member), but considering the context, I feel:

- guilty (to my defense, I also bought extra 12£ tickets that I offered for face value to my friends in case some of them wanted to see the play and were too late with the bookings, that's what I do at the NT most of the time for everyone in prevision of sold out plays).
- that people will judge me for the wrong reasons. I'm a 3D animator and a HUGE acting geek, I FEED on actors performances like a vampire, everything I see is recorded and stored for future reference, so when I like something on stage, I indulge multiple times. Yes, I'm a fan of Sherlock as well, no I'm not just coming back for the Cumberbatch like a fangirl. And in terms of acting, what Benedict/JLM have done with the Creature is like candy for me, I can literally storyboard the shit out of the whole play by memory because I love their motion direction so much.
- annoyed that the only other person in the fandom who has seen the play even more times than me is a complete nutcase and making it look really bad for everyone. But that's another story ;) *cough*

Also, I'm seeing it again in April, and probably the NT live in reverse as well... Like I said, there is no point in denying it now, if people want to burn me, I guess it's ok LOL! *goes hide under her rock again*

Back to Harris, but yeah, I do not understand the casting decision here. He lacks emotion, he's stiff as wood, and after losing two "children" his voice barely flinches. I feel nothing for that man who should be distraught and completely broken. Instead we have this parody of a performance, something that seems odd and out of place. It's kind of sad actually...

You'll love JLM's Creature, it's a different take on the role, and he brings something kid like, slightly more insane than Benedict who is I think darker from the beginning. Also, over the run, it's so interesting to see what they stole from each other's Creature, and adapted in their own vision. I ridiculously love both versions, so much greatness in this, it's mindblowing. Also, Benedict's Victor is without a doubt much better, and when they're in good form, it's like electrity in the air between the two, with that combo. Fingers crossed it will happen on the night you see it as well :)

A gawd *blushes* she said that? She's pretty fuckin awesome herself... Meeting her in London was FATE, we babbled so much on everything, it was just simply fabulous :D

And thank you, I have no words, I LOVE your work as well so let me flail right back at ya, ok?

God, I rambled so much in this post, it's embarassing... I'll go hide now.

Date: 2011-03-30 02:06 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lucybun.livejournal.com
Why should you feel guilty about getting to see it as many times as you'd like? I think it's great that you've had more than one opportunity to enjoy something you love so much. I would love to get to see it live myself - that isn't going to happen, but I certainly don't begrudge anyone else who is able to see it. I actually get a vicarious thrill from people who have been able to see the real thing and share the deets. As far as keeping a tally goes, I don't think the genuine love and enthusiasm you have for theatre and fandom could possibly be compared to the vibe of one-upmanship and "nyah, nyah, nyah" that a certain other person is sending out (whether she intends to or not). There was never even a thought in my mind that you should feel guilty or apologetic for getting to see the show as often as you like.

Moving on...I'm excited about seeing the roles reversed, too. I noticed in the screening the way their gestures and speech patterns sort of mirror each other at times. And I agree about the two of them on stage together. They went from brilliant to effing brilliant when it was just the two of them. That was evident even in the filmed version. I'd love to hear from you when you see the filmed version how you think it differed from the live experience.

Lastly, thank you for the love, and I enjoyed your long post so no need to hide. I know this is odd to say over the internet, but it's nice to meet you!


Date: 2011-03-30 12:49 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] mariemjs.livejournal.com
Aw thank you, I'm glad you see what I'm talking about.
I've become so completely paranoid re:crazy fangirl (and to answer your question, yes, she's like that for real, aka I used to know her in RL and I can testify for that) that I feel the need to constantly justify myself for my repeated viewing of the play, as some people didn't get any tickets and she's making everyone bitter with her showing off. Sorry about the previous rant, as you seem to perfectly understand what it's all about :D
Again, people who know me, know of my absolute commitment to theater and acting, I live in 8m² in East London so I can pay for my theater tickets, all of my money goes to this, no kidding :D!

So far I've seen NT live with Benedict/Creature and I thought it was quite brilliant, allowed me to see many details that you can't see even when sitting in the front row, but I'm a bit baffled by the nudity issue. The Creature is like a baby and they should have kept the nakedness, there is a vulnerability to it that is quite gorgeous. Also, I'm probably one of the only person who LOVED when the birth was 10 min LONGER during the preview LOL! What can I say, it's just brilliant BRILLIANT physical acting... Guilty as charge :)

And it's very nice to meet you too *hugs*, not odd at all, I love how this fandom interconnects in pure awesomeness *teary eyes of joy*.

Date: 2011-04-01 09:35 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] atlinmerrick.livejournal.com
Aw look at the two Maries meeting and cyberhugging! You are both precious and awesome and charming and skilled.

Group frickin' hug!

Atlin Merrick, alias Wendy the Loud

Date: 2011-04-02 03:45 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lucybun.livejournal.com
I totally forgot to mention my name is Marie too. Cheezes twice, I'm thick sometimes. I'm ready for the group hug now.

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