Danny Boyle's stage version of "Frankenstein" has opened at London's National Theatre, and The Guardian critic is applauding. "Forget Boris Karloff with a bolt through his neck," writes Michael Billington. "Forget even Peter Boyle as the new, improved monster singing Puttin' On The Ritz in the Mel Brooks pastiche. What you get in Danny Boyle's production and Nick Dear's adaptation of Mary Shelley's mythic fable, with Benedict Cumberbatch and Jonny Lee Miller alternating as Victor Frankenstein and the Creature, 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, who becomes his alter ego and his nemesis: it's rather like seeing The Tempest rewritten from Caliban's point of view. As a piece of staging, it is brilliant."

I hope Billington didn't mean to suggest that "Boris Karloff with a bolt in his neck" was "shlock." As directed by Billington's countryman, James Whale, Karloff's monster was one of the great horror creations of all time, equally pathetic and harrowing. But Billington's description of Boyle's achievement also makes me hope that a Baltimore cinema will sign up to transmit the live broadcast of the show when the National Theatre beams it out on March 17.

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Billington faults the adaptation for diminishing Shelley's "rage against existing social structures" and Dr. Frankenstein's initial blast of "hubris," but says "on the whole, this a stunning evening. Dear and Boyle highlight the feminist critique of male usurpation of divinity that lurks in Shelley's text. Above all, they constantly make us ask 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? The issue is not so much resolved as left hanging as the two figures memorably depart into an eternal icy wilderness." For Billington's complete review, click here.

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