National Theatre At Home: ‘Frankenstein’ with Benedict Cumberbatch and Jonny Lee Miller premieres TODAY!

Benedict Cumberbatch and Jonny Lee Miller in Frankenstein. Photo courtesy of National Theatre

So, five weeks into the lockdown and you’re already at a loss of what to binge-watch during the remaining days of ‘sheltering at home’? What’s that? You’ve already gone through all episodes of Fleabag and just now come to the realization that there are no more episodes of Schitt’s Creek? 

While the National Theatre in London is shuttered until 30 June, thanks to some brilliant generosity, the National Theatre is making a number of past productions available on the NT YouTube channel with some pretty amazing once-in-a-lifetime viewing options during the lockdown.

If you look up ‘must-see’ in any dictionary anywhere, you’ll be presented with a description of the 2011 National Theatre production of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. Directed by Danny Boyle (Trainspotting, Slumdog Millionaire, 127 Days) and starring Benedict Cumberbatch (Sherlock, Doctor Strange) and Jonny Lee Miller (Trainspotting, Elementary), the stage adaptation by Nick Dear (Jane Austen’s Persuasion) is headed to the National Theatre’s YouTube channel for a free screening beginning this Thursday.

The interesting twist to this presentation is that Cumberbatch and Miller alternated the roles of Victor Frankenstein and ‘the Creature’ on different nights. Both ‘Sherlock’s’ were reunited with Boyle who directed Cumberbatch in The Children’s Monologues and Miller in Trainspotting.

Cumberbatch had just signed on for the role as we interviewed him recently as part of the PBS broadcast of the brilliant Steven Moffat / Mark Gatiss creation of Sherlock. All in all, not a bad year to go from Sherlock to Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy to Frankenstein to the second series of Sherlock, which aired on PBS in January of 2012.

While this may be a 21st adaption of Shelley’s masterpiece, the story remains the same. Frankenstein’s childlike but bewildered creature is cast out into a hostile universe by his horror-struck maker. Meeting with cruelty wherever he goes, the increasingly desperate and vengeful Creature determines to track down his creator and strike a terrifying deal.

Thanks to the National Theatre and their #NationalTheatreAtHome initiative, you can watch both versions of Danny Boyle’s adaptation of the story of a creature learning to inhabit the world and a doctor’s desire to control the world through science. You can see Benedict Cumberbatch play the creature and Jonny Lee Miller as Victor Frankenstein from 7p UK time (2pET/1pCT) on Thursday 30 April until 7p UK time (2pET/1pCT) on Thursday 7 May. You can also see Jonny Lee Miller play the creature and Benedict Cumberbatch as Victor Frankenstein from 7p UK time (2pET/1pCT) on Friday 1 May and available until 7p UK time (2pET/1pCT) on Friday 8 May.

Fortunately, I can attest first-hand as to the brilliance of this production. I had the great good fortune of seeing Frankenstein live at the National Theatre in London back in February 2011. That night, Benedict Cumberbatch played the Creature and Jonny Lee Miller played Victor Frankenstein. It was unforgettable and definitely a must see.

In addition to Frankenstein, you will be able to watch some of the best British theatre from the comfort of your living room, via YouTube for free for one week. If you need something immediately before Thursday, you can watch Tamsin Greig in Shakespeare’s The Twelfth Night from now through Thursday.



In: Actors/Actresses,Odds & Sods