Danny Boyle's Frankenstein wows critics

Benedict Cumberbatch and Jonny Lee Miller in their Frankenstein roles (photos by Catherine Ashmore) Cumberbatch (bottom left and top right) alternates roles with Lee Miller (top left and bottom right) in Boyle's production. Photos by Catherine Ashmore

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Danny Boyle's stage version of Frankenstein has opened at the National Theatre in London with back-to-back press nights.

On Tuesday, Sherlock actor Benedict Cumberbatch played the title role, with Jonny Lee Miller - from Boyle's 1996 film Trainspotting - portraying the Monster he creates.

The roles were alternated the following night, as they will be throughout the play's sold-out run.

But what did critics make of Nick Dear's ambitious adaptation of Mary Shelley's classic Gothic horror novel?

Daily Express - Paul Callan

This is no Hollywood/Hammer-style version of the old tale with a grunting giant sporting a bolt through his neck.

This creature, liberated by knowledge, is a sensitive intellectual who recites Milton and only wants true love.

Danny Boyle has returned from films to direct and the result is, for the most part, a mesmerising evening.

Yet, despite the action and power of Lee Miller and Cumberbatch's individual performances, the script often dragged as badly as the Creature's foot.

Read the full review here.

The Guardian - Michael Billington

What you get in Danny Boyle's production and Nick Dear's adaptation of Mary Shelley's mythic fable is neither shlock nor satire.

Instead it's a humane, intelligent retelling of the original story in which much of the focus is on the plight of the obsessive scientist's sad creation.

The actors complement each other perfectly rather than provide a contest and Boyle's production is a bravura triumph.

Once or twice the language lapses into bathos. But, on the whole, this a stunning evening.

Read the full review here.

Daily Telegraph - Charles Spencer

In Danny Boyle's eagerly awaited production of Frankenstein the show's stars are alternating the roles of the scientist and the deformed Creature.

Both versions are well worth seeing. Miller, however, strikes me as the more disturbing and poignant monster, while Cumberbatch undoubtedly has the edge as the scientist.

The Frankenstein story has become so familiar that it might seem an impossible task to make the old story seem fresh.

Yet somehow Boyle does just that, constantly creating shocks, spectacular coups de theatre and scenes that tug at the heart.

Read the full review here.

The Independent - Paul Taylor

Danny Boyle's extraordinarily haunting production is predicated on the notion of alternating the two leading actors in the roles of Frankenstein and his galvanised handiwork.

The role-reversal makes deep thematic sense because it highlights the irony whereby the son becomes the father, the slave the master.

Broadly speaking, Cumberbatch emphasises the intellectual edge of both roles; Lee Miller takes us further into the feeling.

Cumberbatch is brilliant at conveying the blackly ridiculous aspects of the hubristic Scientist [and] is more horrifying as Frankenstein's handiwork.

Read the full review here.

The Times - Libby Purves

It is a hell of a production. This taut, thrilling play runs to its awful conclusion without an interval, indeed with hardly a moment for breath.

Yet it remains, as Mary Shelley intended, basically a work of philosophy, pathos and moral seriousness.

Mark Tildesley's stunning design and Bruno Poet's remarkable lighting effects use the Olivier's vastness with controlled imaginative strength.

I nearly fell out of my seat at the shock bridal-chamber scene. Twice.

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