Urban Cottage Industries has provided theatre lighting to a range of projects, but probably none with the impact of that supplied for Danny Boyle's 2011 stage adaptation of Frankenstein. The production, at the National Theatre, was a huge success - rapidly selling out its three month run and breathing new life into the classic story.
Urban Cottage Industries worked with the acclaimed lighting designer Bruno Poet to help create the incredible lighting installation featuring over 3,000 filament light bulbs pulsating and coalescing as the Creature came to life.
Mary Shelley's gothic novel has generated many works - films, plays and television etc - so producing a truly stand-out stage version is a huge achievement. The National's Frankenstein starred Benedict Cumberbatch and Jonny Lee Miller, famously alternating the roles of Victor Frankenstein and the Creature. Bruno's lighting design knitted perfectly with the themes which underpin Frankenstein's enduring relevance and popularity - the wonder at, and fear of, scientific and technological progress. The lighting perfectly encapsulated the dawn of the industrial age and was fundamental to the narrative. Bruno achieved the amazing lighting display by dividing the ceiling area of the National Theatre into lighting squares and using a separate dimmer circuit for each. Filament bulbs, lamp holders and fabric cable were used for each pendant light in the arrangement, along with dozens of shades and lamp cages. The reviews of Frankenstein were excellent, with the theatre lighting singled out for special praise:
- 'A candle-filled canopy overhangs the auditorium and blazes into light to evoke Victor's galvanizing experiments.' Michael Billington, The Guardian, 24 February 2011.
- 'This birth scene is an extraordinary challenge for an actor: 15 minutes of fully naked jerks and rictus-mouthed pangs, under the harsh pulses of light that thrum through the brilliant rack of bulbs and alembics that roof the auditorium.' Time Out, 23 February 2011.
- 'Yet somehow Boyle does just that, constantly creating shocks, spectacular coups de theatre – the lighting effects alone are worth the price of admission – and scenes that tug at the heart.' Charles Spencer Daily Telegraph, 23 February 2011.