Sunday, 30 November 2014

Frankenstein and the Theatre

So this weekend I got to see something incredible:

Frankenstein, an incredible performance
This was a play originally performed live at the National Theatre, starring Jonny Lee Miller and Benedict Cumberbatch. When it was performed, they also filmed it and broadcast it into cinema's around the country so that other people could get to experience it from afar. This year they decided to re-air it in the cinema's, allowing those of us who missed it to see it.

Now, I adore the theatre. It was always my dream to work in a theatre, to be a theatre actor and experience the madness and sheer exhilaration of performing each and every night. Sadly my talents in this field are somewhat lacking, but my love of the theatre has never lessened. So to get to see these two great actors at work was really something.

The play had an interesting twist - the two main actors swapped roles each night, one time playing Dr. Victor Frankenstein, and the next playing the monster he created. This emphasised the idea of creation and humanity and such (according to the director).

Swapping roles each night, giving two brilliant interpretations of the same play
I was lucky enough to see both versions of the play, and both were just incredible. The two men portrayed both characters differently to one another, despite going through the same motions and having the same lines. Lots of people say they have a 'favourite' cast for the play, but I have to say it is hard to choose which I prefer.
BC's portrayal of the creature really showed his innocence and sheer joy at seeing the world for the first time, of experiencing sunlight and rain, and the feeling of grass on his skin, and the vulnerability he had when he first came to life and learned to walk. As the play moved on, you really felt the sense of sheer betrayal felt by the creature, which I found less so from JLM's portrayal. JLM on the other hand showed the creatures anger and burning rage barely kept under control as the play progressed, his voice stronger and body language harsher from the start. They both showed different sides to the creature, but both of them made you love him, sympathise with him, and feel an immense loss for the person he could have been had people not been so harsh.
JLM portrayed the doctor's progression as a slow decent into madness, which I loved. The doctors sheer exhaustion yet sheer determination at the end was just incredible. BC on the other hand really made the characters obsession and drive for science shine through, though showed less of the characters slow but sure destruction than JLM.

So you see, it's very hard to say which I prefer. In a way I would say I prefer cast A, with BC as the creature and JLM as the doctor. I think that is because that was the first performance I saw, and so the second was always being compared. Both were just incredible though, and I am so glad I saw them.

A quick word on the staging - incredible. Ok, I know I have said that a lot, but seriously it was. They had a huge display of lightbulbs that lit up and flashed at times throughout the performance, showing the flashes of electricity that brings the creature to life, as well as the strangeness of it all and those flashes of inspiration that came to Victor Frankenstein throughout the story. They also had a rotating centre, allowing for different staging to appear, and a set of tracks (like a railway) which were used to great effect (especially when a fully steampunked up train and crew came roaring on stage). Also that make-up for the creature: just wow.

If any of you ever get the chance to see it then do so. They aren't releasing a DVD of it, which is sad but a decision made by the performance team and one I respect. It would loose something I think.
Here is the trailer they released, so you can have a flavour:

As a final note, if anyone ever wants to see anything in the theatre, please give me a shout. I want to see more things at the theatre, as I always have and always will love the magic. 

Friday, 21 November 2014

Kingdom Hearts - my childhood Pokemon

So, many people are currently getting excited over the upcoming release of this:

Yup, that's right, Pokemon!
This (for those of you who either live under a rock or care none for games), is the remake and upgrade of two of the most popular pokemon games. The original games were released alongside Pokemon emerald, which hasn't been remade (maybe it was rubbish?), on the Nintendo Gameboy Advance around 2002-2003 according to Wikipedia.

You may have guessed I don't play Pokemon. Nor do I have a particular wish to. I have my reasons, which I won't go into here.

*cue shock and outrage*

Ok, I will go into one reason. I have never owned any of the handheld Nintendo consoles. None of them. So, whilst most of you who enjoy the series have a huge rush of nostalgia back to an era where colour was a luxury and the envy of all when it came to handheld gaming, I only have a vague memory of being a little jealous I didn't have one. So I didn't play the series as a kid.
Ok, 2 reasons. The other being I like in depth and detailed story-lines that are the main focus of a game. And no, I do not count 'to be the best pokemon trainer ever' to be an in depth and detailed storyline. I also don't enjoy having to do endless battles for 6 hours solid before being told 'great, you are now strong enough to do the next 6 hours of endless battles'.

Now, before you all start yelling at me, I'm not saying they're bad games. I'm saying I don't enjoy them. Difference. Note it.

Now onto something I do love, and spent most of my childhood playing over and over again:

The original Kingdom Hearts
For those of you who don't know, this is a game called Kingdom Hearts. There are now something like 6 spin off games from this original ones, all of which are damned good. It was originally released on the PS2, also funnily enough back in 2002, 2 years after I first got my PS2.

The basic premise of the game is you play as this guy over here in the red ->
This is Sora, your traditional mildly irritating teenage protagonist, who I nevertheless kinda like. He is the legendary keyblade master (though of course he doesn't know it). The keyblade literally being a giant key (see image) that you use to beat up the bad guys. Deal with it.

Then Disney and the final fantasy series team up and go, hey lets team up and get into gaming. So, Sora meets up with Donald Duck and Goofy the dog (see other images) and goes about saving all the worlds you know and love (or don't) from all the old Disney films. You go to Wonderland, Agrabah, Neverland, Atlantica, Halloween Town, Tarzan's Jungle and Hercules training grounds. Plus there are a couple of other new worlds to play in. You really don't have to have seen the films to play the game (I haven't seen them all) but its fun to see the characters you know in new and interesting situations.
Shadow heartless, your basic bad guy

The story is a good one (IMHO). The worlds are being devoured by the dark evil beings known as the heartless, who come from the darkness in peoples hearts. Without you and your trusty companions, everything will succumb to darkness. At the same time, Sora's two best friends have gone missing, and he wants nothing more than to find them both safe and well. (yeah, like that's going to happen). There is a lot of character development for Sora as the game goes on and he realises that the universe isn't as happy as he thinks it is. There are also numerous things that occur that tie in with the story-lines of later games, which I think is cool.
The only problem I have with the KH games (bar the slight cheesyness) is my now irrational hatred of Mickey Mouse, which people just don't get.

So yeah, basically whilst you are all getting excited over Pokemon, I'm busy getting excited for the release of Kingdom Hearts 2.5 remix in a couple of weeks. 1.5 remix came out last year and I have been loving every minute of it. The remix versions are not only the PS3 shiny remakes, but they also have a bunch of new content, new enemies, new cutscenes and new goals to achieve, adding an extra dimension to the game. They also come with 2 of the spin-off games not previously available on the PS2 which I'm excited to play. (It got irritating when Nintendo snapped up a couple of the spin off games as exclusives as I don't have the console or the money to own one).
I prefer the storyline of KH1, but the gameplay of KH2 is on another level and I love it so much more. Plus KH3 is now in the works, much excitement!

So there you are. I like gaming. Sorry for the slow update, not much exciting has been occurring in my life recently.
I should have some exciting science updates for you soon(ish) maybe. I'm currently creating many much wiggly lines using an NMR machine which is fun (go look it up).

That's all for now!