LIKE Frankenstein’s creature itself, director Danny Boyle’s stage version of Mary Shelley’s novel is a far from perfect creation.

Boyle, best known for such films as Trainspotting, the Oscar-winning Slumdog Millionaire and most recently 127 hours, returns to his stage roots in this production starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Jonny Lee Miller who alternate the roles of the creature and Victor Frankenstein.

Visually it is impressive, making the most of the Olivier Theatre’s huge, but intimate revolving stage. Sets rise from beneath and in one scene a steam train thunders on to the stage in a cacophony of sound.

Lighting nicely punctuates throughout and a soundtrack by electronic duo Underworld adds to the total theatre experience in which Boyle fuses all manner of theatrical tricks.

Cumberbatch, of Sherlock Holmes fame, is obvious casting as the scientist Victor, with Miller as the creature. But seeing them in reverse offers a more startling demonstration of both actors' abilities playing against type.

The long opening scene in which Frankenstein's creation comes to life is mesmorising, as naked and hideously scarred, the creature hauls itself to its feet, struggling to keep its balance as it attempts to coordinate brain with body. It is a fine piece of physical acting, although ultimately it goes on a touch too long.

Thereafter, Nick Dear's script reduces the subtleties of Shelley's novel to a somewhat simplistic retelling of the classic gothic tale about the nature of good and evil. Several short scenes are clumsily contrived just to move the plot along and are at times embarrassingly awful, made worse by an utterly unconvincing supporting cast.

It is a pity, as there are aspects of this production which are brilliant and inspiring. But look beyond the special effects and the star names and you have a production which isn’t quite worth all the hype.