Just me talking about costume-y kind of stuff
2018 was the 200th anniversary of the publication of Mary Shelley's novel, so the National Theatre screened another encore version of their production in the U.S. so viewers could see both versions. Yes, there are two versions of the play because the director, Danny Boyle, thought it would make the show more interesting to have the actors playing Victor and the Creature switch roles every night. You need two amazing actors to be able to pull that off, which is why Benedict Cumberbatch was cast. I hadn't heard of Johnny Lee Miller then, but I'll definitely look for him in other things now. They were both so phenomenal that they jointly won the Olivier Award for Best Actor.
I got tickets for the whole family to see this production for my husband's birthday. On Oct. 22 Benedict Cumberbatch played the Creature and on Oct. 29 he played Victor Frankenstein. We had originally planned to see the Oct. 22 version which was my husband's actual birthday, however, Seth having football practice that night was going to make it difficult for us to get there on time. Fortunately, the next week was a bi week and Seth didn't have practice on Monday, so we bought tickets for the 29th version instead. The tickets were $14 each, so twice as much as a regular movie, but so worth it. We didn't get to see anything at the National when we were in London and this definitely made up for it. I wrote a whole blog about the tour of the National that you can reference.
Here are the two official trailers you can watch:
Because the National Theatre is committed to teaching and allows all British schools to show the movies of their plays for free, they also make accompanying educational videos. Before our screening they played all of these.
Here's a few selected reviews of the original production that I thought might be of interest to you. The Tumblr reviewer Another Boy Who Lived, also saw both versions and all the educational materials and goes into quite a bit of detail about how the actors performances were either different or similar in each role, but focusing more on The Creature. The NASSR graduate student review is more focused on the production's relationship to Romanticism and how the playwright and director use the themes of the novel to make statements about our current political climate and the place of science in it.
Director Danny Boyle worked closely with Nick Dear, the playwright, to bring this version of Mary Shelley's novel to life. It is not surprising that he put together a design team of people he'd worked with before: Costume Designer Suttrit Lalab, Scenic Designer Mark Tildesley, and Score Composer Underworld had worked with him on Sunshine and done two other films with him separately before Frankenstein and went on to do the 2012 Olympics Opening Ceremony with him afterwards.
Stage Design--Mark Tildesley
The National Theatre's Olivier stage is a revolve that contains two independent lifts. It can seem to corkscrew up and down to aid in massive set changes. The first set piece is what seems to be a drum head, but turns out to be an incubator of sorts. It's a metal circle that has three different pieces of stretch fabric tied to the edges like a trampoline on it's side. The Creature is inside of the fabric and slips out like he's being born. There's a staircase and what looks to be a library of books stage right and above on a second level.
Although the scenery seemed to be very minimal at the time, in retrospect, there was a lot going on. It's a huge space and most of the time it was fairly empty, but there was always something in the space to look at and for the characters to interact with. Besides the incubator, there were tracks that held a steam train, which later contained a patch of grass. there was DeLacey's house that was built like a scrim and could be seen inside of,
there was a wooden quay across Lake Geneva (another great lighting effect) that descended in two parts from the fly.
There was Frankenstein's house which converts into his bedroom as well as his lab in Scotland where he makes the Bride,
Costume Design--Suttirat Anne Larlarb
Suttirat Larlarb is an American costume designer. Her parents are both Thai and came to the US as Fulbright scholars. She attended Stanford where she majored in studio art and then received her MFA at Yale School of Drama where she studied under Ming Cho Lee. She's on faculty at Carnegie Mellon since 2013. She met director Danny Boyle when she moved to London after graduating and worked on three of his films including Sunshine, Slum Dog Millionaire, and 127 Hours. Here's an interview with her from 2011.
The costume design was consistent with the date of the novel's publication. Men in three piece suits with hose and pumps, and women in Empire-waisted dresses. Much like the scenery, the costumes seemed minimal at the time because you're so focused on the Creature's journey, you forget that there are other characters in the play. The first group of people that The Creature encounters are laying track for a steam train, a prostitute entertaining them, a couple of beggars cooking dinner, and eventually DeLacey and his family. After killing Delacey he seeks out Frankenstein and inserts himself into his family by killing William. Each character seems to stay in one costume for most of the show. Elizabeth has two costumes--a green dress, and her wedding dress that she takes off to reveal a nightgown.
Lighting Design-- Bruno Poet
There were almost 4,000 Tungsten bulbs hung from a mirrored ceiling. There were wired to many banks of dimmers so that they could control each area of light separately. The light chandelier functioned as the electrical charge that brings The Creature to life. In addition to providing its own light, it also served as a reflective surface that the more traditional lights could focus on and illuminate. Here's an interview with Factorylux where you can read all about the technical aspects of the lighting. Here's another article written for Theatre Crafts magazine that is much more in depth about the lighting and sound design of the production.
Makeup and Hair Design--Giuseppe Cannas
I actually had to do some research to get the name of the person responsible for the special effects makeup for The Creature. IMDB doesn't list the creative team, just the actors and camera operators who were involved in the filming. The National Theatre's archive doesn't list makeup and hair on the program in their own archive, so I emailed the archive and they actually got back to me with an answer in less than 24 hours! This is the answer I got: "The make-up for Frankenstein (2011) was designed by our in-house NT Wigs, Hair and Make-Up Department which is managed by Giuseppe Cannas". So thanks, Fran Horner, for answering my question. It still doesn't give me the name of the makeup artist or the prosthetics designer, but hey, it's something.
There is however, an article in the Daily Mail that at least gives us more photos of the makeup process, but still doesn't mention the name of the designer nor the artist who worked for 2 hours every night getting the boys into their makeup and 40 minutes taking it off. I can tell you that Benedict wore a bald cap as The Creature, due to his commitments to Sherlock he was unable to shave his head, while Johnny Lee Miller shaved his head and wore a wig as Victor.
The special effects makeup on the Creature were outstanding. He was clearly stitched together, bloody and bruised from surgery. The other great fx makeup that we get is his Bride who shows up in two scenes: one clothed and one unclothed. Contrary to other representations of the Bride, she is not more finely put together than The Creature. She is just as scarred and bruised and bloody with equally litte hair.
Photo credits: Simon Annand
Photo credits: Catherine Ashmore
3. Industrial Revolution
4. Dawn of Eden
5. Beggars Attack and Creature Alone
6. De Lacey Cottage Guitar
7. Not a King (Snow)
8. Faery Folk and Nightingale
9. Female Creature Dream
10. Creature Banished and Cottagers Burn
11. Hide and Seek, Body in Boat
12. The Alps
13. Frankenstein House
14. Sea Shanty and Croft
15. Bride Creature.Walk
16. Bride Creature.Death
17. Wedding Song and Bedroom
18. Arctic Wastes
19. Come Scientist Destroy