Monster hit

Benedict Cumberbatch and Jonny Lee Miller in Danny Boyle’s Frankenstein

The Rosendale Theatre opens to the world stage as it presents the United Kingdom’s National Theatre production of Frankenstein this Sunday, June 24. A unique retelling of Mary Shelley’s original story, Nick Dear’s contemporary play focuses on the plight of the horrific-but-sad Creature, his yearning for companionship and longing for love, who is cast into a hostile universe by his maker, Victor Frankenstein. Met with cruelty in this world, the grotesque monster loses his innocence and turns to revenge.

When it was staged last year at the Olivier Theatre in London, Michael Billington of The Guardian wrote, “…which of the two main characters is the real monster? Is it the disfigured, repulsive Creature or Frankenstein himself, with his subordination of love and friendship to the idea of creative perfection? Even when [the Creature] is driven to murder, the guilt ultimately belongs to Victor. And when the Creature rapes Victor’s bride before killing her, it is as if he is expressing his creator’s own dark, suppressed desires.”

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Directed by Danny Boyle, Dear’s Frankenstein features 2012 Olivier Award Best Actor joint winners Benedict Cumberbatch and Jonny Lee Miller, who alternate the roles of Victor Frankenstein and the Creature. In fact, the play was filmed twice to give cinema audiences the opportunity to see the consummate actors in each role. Both versions will be screened at the Rosendale: one at 3 p.m. with Cumberbatch as the Creature, and one at 7:15 p.m. with Miller in that part.

In his review, Billington points to themes of scientific responsibility, parental neglect, cognitive development and the nature of good and evil in this deeply disturbing classic Gothic tale (not recommended for children, by the way). He quotes the Creature: “Slowly I learnt the ways of humans: how to ruin, how to hate, how to debase, how to humiliate. And at the feet of my master I learnt the highest of human skills, the skill no other creature owns: I finally learnt how to lie.”

The Rosendale Theatre presents monthly broadcasts from the National Theatre in London, which stages and films over 20 productions a year: a mix of new plays and classics, with up to six productions in repertory at any one time. Making them available to theatres worldwide, it aims to reenergize the great traditions of the British stage and to expand the horizons of audiences and artists alike.

Tickets for both screenings cost $12 for general admission and $10 for members. The running time for each is two hours, with no intermission. The Rosendale Theatre is located at 408 Main Street in Rosendale. For more information call (845) 658-8989 or visit www.rosendaletheatre.org.

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