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Frankenstein rises again at Hanesbrands Theatre

by Mark Burger

Even the Hanesbrands Theatre in downtown Winston- Salem is getting into the Halloween spirit, with special encore screenings of the award-winning stage production of Frankenstein on Oct. 31 and Nov. 1.

Nick Dear’s adaptation of Mary Shelley’s classic 1818 novel was originally presented in 2011 by the prestigious National Theatre in London, with actors Benedict Cumberbatch and Jonny Lee Miller alternating in the main roles of Victor Frankenstein and the Creature. The production was a hit with audiences and critics alike, hailed by Time Out as “a monster hit,” by the Daily Mail as “a memorable production,” and the Daily Telegraph as “a thrill. The most viscerally exciting and stunning show in town.”

Cumberbatch and Miller both won the 2012 Olivier Award for Best Actor, and Cumberbatch also took home the Critics’ Circle Theatre Awards citation as Best Performance by an Actor in a Play.

The ongoing National Theatre of London Live in HD series of exclusive screenings first broadcast Frankenstein to theaters worldwide in 2011. Those initial screenings proved so popular that encore screenings took place in 2012. Now, to commemorate the National Theatre’s 50 th anniversary celebration, even more encore screenings were scheduled… and when better to schedule them than Halloween?

The production was directed by Danny Boyle, the acclaimed maker of such films as Shallow Grave (1994), Trainspotting (1996), 28 Days Later (2002), 127 Hours (2010) and Slumdog Millionaire (2008), which won eight Academy Awards including Best Picture and Best Director. Last year, he directed the opening ceremony of the 2012 Olympic Games held in London. His most recent film was this year’s thriller Trance, starring James McAvoy, Vincent Cassel and Rosario Dawson.

Frankenstein is among the most timeless tales of terror ever told, one fraught with moral and existential ramifications. The brilliant and obsessed scientist Victor Frankenstein has succeeded in creating life, a being created out of the parts and remnants of dead bodies. Yet he is appalled and disgusted by the Creature he has made, casting him out into a world the Creature doesn’t understand … and which doesn’t understand him.

The Creature comes to understand one of man’s most primal emotions, that of vengeance, as he seeks to torment and destroy the very man who created him. Yet who is the true monster, the Creature or the ambitious scientist who created him?

Cumberbatch recently appeared in the sci-fi blockbuster Star Trek: Into Darkness and the acclaimed HBO miniseries Parade’s End, and can currently be seen as controversial journalist Julian Assange in The Fifth Estate. Miller previously appeared in Boyle’s Trainspotting, and encountered other gothic ghouls in Dracula 2000 (2000) and Tim Burton’s Dark Shadows (2012). The two stars also share an interesting “Sherlockian” distinction in that both are currently playing Arthur Conan Doyle’s immortal sleuth Sherlock Holmes on television — Cumberbatch on the award-winning BBC series Sherlock, and Miller a contemporary version on CBS’ “Elementary.”

Cumberbatch will play Victor Frankenstein and Miller the Creature on Oct. 31, with the roles reversed on Nov. 1.

The cast also includes Naomie Harris, Ella Smith, George Harris and Karl Johnson.

Showtimes are 7:30 p.m. Thursday (Oct. 31) and 8 p.m Friday (Nov. 1). Tickets are $15 (general admission) and $12 (student with valid ID). The Hanesbrands Theatre is located at 209 N. Spruce St., Winston-Salem.

For advance tickets or more information about this event, call 336.747.1414 or check out hanesbrandtheatre.org. For more information about other screening events from National Theatre Live, visit the official website: ntlive.nationaltheatre.org.uk.

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