Frankenstein draws Slumdog director Danny Boyle back to live theatre

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The Independent Culture

After describing his career as a filmmaker as a 15-year "distraction", Danny Boyle, the Oscar-winning director of Slumdog Millionaire, is set to return to his original role as a theatre director with a "spectacular" production of Frankenstein that he first conceived almost a decade ago.

Boyle will dramatise Mary Shelley's gothic novel, with an adapted script by Nick Dear, for the National Theatre's main stage, in what will be his directorial debut at the London venue. Nicholas Hytner, artistic director at the National, said yesterday that the Manchester-born filmmaker had declared: "I am coming back to theatre after being distracted for 15 years by the movies."

However, Boyle's theatrical production might be enjoyed by cinema audiences as well, as part of the National's scheme to beam live performances of its plays onto big screens across the world. The NT Live project was launched last year with Phèdre, starring Helen Mirren.

Boyle and Hytner first worked together 10 years ago at the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC), where they both directed plays. It was then that Boyle first mentioned his Frankenstein idea.

Hytner said that when the National appointed him nine years ago, Boyle was "one of the first people I talked to about doing something". The pair have been in talks about how and when to stage Frankenstein ever since. The play, based on the novel Shelley published in 1818, has been imagined as a large-scale, theatrically ambitious and visual event. It is expected to be staged by the end of this year, or in early 2011.

Boyle began his career in live theatre, first at the Joint Stock Theatre Company, then with the Royal Court. He directed five productions for the RSC before turning to television and film, making award-winning films such as Shallow Grave and Trainspotting, which led to his Hollywood breakthrough in the late Nineties.

Yesterday, it also emerged that Peter Hall is to return to the National to direct Shakespeare's Twelfth Night, in which he has cast his daughter, Rebecca Hall, in the role of Viola. Hall, who founded the RSC and is one of the country's most eminent directors, last visited the National in 2002 to direct the Greek tragedy The Bacchae. His daughter starred in Woody Allen's film Vicky Cristina Barcelona.