Tag Archives: NT Live


The NT Live screening of Hedda Gabler brings us a bleak, sparse and shattering version of Ibsen’s classic play, written in 1891.

Under Ivo Van Hove’s assured direction, the play is updated to now, with a crisp, supple translation by Patrick Marber that makes it seem new and vivid .

The set is an almost bare, anonymous apartment in the inner city, in the middle of renovation. There are vertical blinds, a fridge and a security camera at the door. Jan Verswyveld‘s lighting is splendid.

The soundscape features a mix of popular songs including Joni Mitchell’s classic ballad Blue all of which go to depicting a person in crisis.

Ruth Wilson is luminous and riveting in the eponymous title role . We first see her slumped over the piano, in negligee and dressing robe, seemingly oblivious of what is happening around her– but is she really?!                               Continue reading NT LIVE PRESENTS AN IBSEN CLASSIC : HEDDA GABBLER



George Bernard Shaw’s ST JOAN, in a production directed by Josie Rourke at the Donmar, is the latest play in the NT Live screenings.

I had mixed feelings about Rourke’s production. Gemma Arterton as St Joan is superb, and the idea of updating the play to now with computers, mobile phones and rolling screens of financial statistics was intriguing but  didn’t feel like it worked that well.

The dialogues was beautifully spoken it could perhaps be a terrific radio play version. The play is abridged, but much attention is paid to the complicated, convoluted text of Shaw’s play. Continue reading NT LIVE’S OVERLY AMBITIOUS ST JOAN @ THE DONMAR



Following their hit run on Broadway, Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart (they last appeared together in Waiting for Godot back in 2009) returned to the West End stage in Harold Pinter’s NO MAN’S LAND, captured live to cinemas from Wyndham’s Theatre, London as part of the wonderful NT Live series. The production ended its season at the Wyndham on December 17, 2016.

Pinter’s play transfers wonderfully from stage to screen , is clearly and thoughtfully shot with terrific use of close up at certain points ( for example when Patrick Stewart as Spooner crumbles in despair at one point in the first act, or the tension at his crawling exit. Or McKellan’s face when Hirst admits to seducing Spooner’s wife).

Superbly directed by Sean Mathias and with a stellar cast this is a magnificent, tense production. Continue reading NT LIVE PRESENTS HAROLD PINTER’S ‘NO MAN’S LAND’


opening of the show with the Balladeer

kThis latest offering as part of the NT Live wonderful season is dark, disturbing and compelling.

The social comment and context is extremely important. Directed by Rufus Norris and adapted by Simon Stephens much is made of the savage despair of Brecht and Weill’s era and the ‘skint people ‘.

THREE PENNY OPERA tells the tale of how Macheath brings down the Peachum’s wrath on his head by marrying their daughter Polly before going on the run through London’s dismal brothels, with his former lover and one time collaborator Chief Inspector “Tiger” Brown in hot pursuit. Continue reading NT LIVE PRESENTS THREE PENNY OPERA


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Anastasia Hille as Gertrude and Benedict Cumberbatch as Hamlet. Production photography by Johan Parsson.

More than hotly anticipated, the National Theatre Live’s HAMLET at The Barbican, became the fastest selling ticket in London theatrical history.

Lyndsey Turner’s production is towering, bleak and imposing and uses a slightly bridge and shifted text.

As the Prince of Denmark Benedict Cumberbatch is sensational. He gives a finely nuanced an d multi-faceted performance.

Dressed in contemporary casual at the beginning, we first see him in a room in the castle going through trunks of his father’s things. It is hard to tell if his madness is feigned or not.  At times he is intensely coiled and wound up, barely in control. The famous monologues are delivered wonderfully, seemingly fresh and new-minted.  Continue reading NT LIVE presents HAMLET

NT LIve: Everyman


This riveting production will enthrall you and give you much to think about.

EVERYMAN is Rufus Norris’s first production as artistic director at the National and is a contemporary adaption by poet laureate Carol Ann Duffy of a medieval Mystery Play.

At times the rather galumphing rhyming couplets are witty, at times clunky and in the main powerful and dynamic.

The designs are quite sparse and functional, combined with excellent use of projections and special effects, storm crashes, lightning etc. The use of the revolve works well. Continue reading NT LIve: Everyman


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George Bernard Shaw’s 1903 MAN AND SUPERMAN with more than 57,000 words, is an epic romantic comedy of manners, a witty social satire and presents a range of very profound philosophical arguments and other existential topics and theories.

Full of contradictions, the play is a comedy about ideas – most of the characters passionately discuss and debate a range of subjects including politics, capitalism, socialism, social reform, male/female roles in courtship. It definitely has a certain Wildean appeal, with a multitude of clever witticisms, about music and the morals of the English upper classes, whilst questioning the integrity of English politicians.

When first published it was pronounced as being unstageable, because its verbosity made it unwieldy.  The play asks fundamental questions about how we live, during its four acts lasting nearly four hours, and all the messages conveyed remain still very relevant today, and in its genre this play remains forever a provocative theatre landmark.


NT Live: Tom Stoppard’s new play: THE HARD PROBLEM

Inset pic- Olivia Vinall plays Hilary. Featured pic- Damien Malony plays Spike and Olivia Vinall as Hilary in The Hard Problem
Inset pic- Olivia Vinall plays Hilary. Featured pic- Damien Malony plays Spike and Olivia Vinall as Hilary in The Hard Problem

What exactly is consciousness? Is our identity the product of what Francis Crick calls “a vast assembly of nerve cells”? How much is human behaviour the product of altruism or egoism? Is there a God?!

These are some of the questions that Tom Stoppard asks in his deeply moving and explorative play, THE HARD PROBLEM.

This is the first new play by Stoppard in nine years and it has been produced as part of this years’ NT Live season. It also represents Nicholas Heytner’s final and very stylish production as the Artistic Director of the National Theatre. Continue reading NT Live: Tom Stoppard’s new play: THE HARD PROBLEM


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Ahoy me hearties! All aboard for a thrilling, somewhat dark piratical adventure.

When a treasure map is discovered, what else is there to do but go in search of it? Robert Louis Stevenson’s story of mutiny , murder, and money is vividly brought to life in this thrilling new stage adaptation by Bryony Lavery, broadcast as part of the NT Live series.

It’s a dark, stormy night. The stars are out. Jim, the inn-keeper’s grandson, opens the door to a terrifying stranger. At the old sailor’s feet sits a huge sea-chest, full of secrets. Jim invites him in – and his dangerous voyage begins. Along the way, Jim learns loyalty, trust and friendship.

Lizzie Clachan’s revolving, collapsing, pulsating set, dominated by a semicircle of giant ‘tusks’, making one think both of a wrecked hull and the rib bones of a creature’s carcass, is glorious. When the vast ‘Hispaniola’ majestically rises up on the revolving stage – rigging looming large as a bouyant shanty rises – the effect is magnificent. And the same applies for the breathtaking galaxy of stars visible at times.           Continue reading NT Live: TREASURE ISLAND


This is a darkly disturbing, confronting work that is extremely powerful. It is a piece of verbatim theatre in which the text is derived entirely from interviews with real people, reworked into a usable theatre script.

DV8 Physical Theatre has produced 18 highly acclaimed dance-theatre works and four films for TV to date, gathering over 50 UK and international awards. Previous DV8 works To Be Straight With You and Can We Talk About This? I, for example, collated a mass of voices, but this work focuses on just one voice, that of John.

Portrayed with gentle , calm and quiet poise by Hannes Langolf, John seems to have been chosen as the main subject because of his suffering in his unfortunate life. The pain John has been through, and the depths to which he sank into drugs and criminality, are shown as being the result of a childhood of horrific domestic abuse. Continue reading NT LIve : DV8: JOHN

NT Live’s brilliant SKYLIGHT

This outstanding production of David Hare’s marvellous play was filmed in London’s West End under the umbrella of NT Live on July 17.

Written eighteen years ago by the great British playwright David Hare , and first performed in 1995 , this gripping, intense production  makes it feels as relevant, powerful and fresh as if it was written yesterday.

SKYLIGHT is superbly written and crafted, with humour, poignancy and biting wit. The political and personal are deftly interwoven as Hare shows us two people bound together by shared passionate memories of passion but separated by attitude, income and ideology.

Under Daldry’s magnificent direction the small cast of three ( Beard, Mulligan and Nighy ) are coaxed into giving brilliant performances.

Crowley’s set illustrates Kyra’s dingy ,cluttered ,messy , rather depressing housing commision flat at Kensal Rise .It is freezing cold and outside the trees are bare( although the snow does make them slightly prettier) . Walls slide away in a coup de theatre so we can see inside . (In the interval interview Hare says in effect that he set himself the task he had always wanted of writing a love story with just two people in a room).

The play begins and ends with Edward’s appearance but it is Tom and Kyra’s relationship that is the  heart of the play. Mulligan and Nighy are sensational, their performance crackles with the tension between them.

As Kyra, Mulligan is stunning, luminous, with huge sad eyes. Intensely focused, at times she has an almost feline aura of self possession, yet at others she glows with joyous memories of romance. She is fiery and passionate about helping her students, full of quiet determination.She has an impassioned monologue about her love for Tom, and how she had to flee once his wife Alice found out , but there’s also another monologue about her passion for her work and how she makes it bearable by listening to people whilst travelling on the bus.

She has a scathing, vehement monologue on the way politicians and journalists habitually trash social workers,which generated much spontaneous applause both in the theatre at the performance and from us in the cinema audience watching.

Nighy as Tom is tall and arrogant with an explosive temper that has a very short fuse. He stalks Kyra’s flat as if he owns it, kicking chairs out of the way and delivering his wonderful lines with perfect timing. .

A rich entrepreneur he can’t really understand Kyra’s leaving and choosing to live the life she does although he tries to. Nighy is craggily handsome and extremely charismatic.

When we first see him ,underneath his cashemere overcoat his suit is beautifully pressed and his shirt immaculate. Kyra accuses Tom of having no real understanding of ordinary people’s lives,– look at the way he treats his driver, Frank. His handling and opinion of the cheese Kyra gives him to grate, it is as if, as one of my colleagues remarked, it was radioactive .

Beard as Edward,Tom’s son, is tall thin, gangly and anxious to please. A tremendous performance. He dazzles Kyra at the end with the presentation of a huge splendid breakfast. One wonders at the end, whether a cycle involving Kyra and Edward, would continue?!

There are many issues raised including Tom blaming himself for Alice’s suffering and feeling she never really forgave him and always expected something back (did she? ).  Was it an accident that Tom left the incriminating letters that day on the table? Was Kyra morally correct in fleeing at the time once Alice had found out about the affair? Both Tom and Kyra battle with enormous guilt .

A brilliant performance where the two lovers Kyra and Tom rake over the ashes of their affair the play reminds us of both the hurt and anger of lost love, and has sudden piercing moments of enduring tenderness. It is a wonderful mixture of public rage and private hidden pain at our profoundly unequal and polarised society.

Running time –allow 2 hours 45 (approx) which includes one interval and  an interview with David Hare.

An NT Live production, cinemagoers can still catch SKYLIGHT this coming weekend. SKYLIGHT is screening this weekend at the Palace Chauvel and Riverside Parramatta and the Cremorne Orpheum where it is also screening on Wednesday 5th November.


NT Live: Medea


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Pics by Richard Hubert Smith

This is a shattering , explosively powerful performance that should perhaps come with a warning to allow time to recover afterwards.

In Ben Powers idiomatic translation from the ancient Greek there is no blank verse but it is still extremely powerful. Intriguingly, this is the first time that the National has presented MEDEA . The production is well directed by Carrie Cracknell.

Michaela Coel as the nurse , a member of Medea’s shrinking entourage,  opens the show with a chilling monologue that sets up everything that is to follow. Continue reading NT Live: Medea



Academy Award® winner Sam Mendes (Skyfall, American Beauty) returns to the Olivier Theatre’s grand thrust stage at the National Theatre, to direct the two-time Olivier Award winner, Simon Russell Beale (Timon of Athens, Collaborators) in the title role of Shakespeare’s dark tragedy about the last days of a mad dictator. This cosmic story of ancient Britons, is attached to a framework that unashamedly provides the audience with a very violent and brutal modern dress production, that unexpectedly contained full frontal male nudity.

‘Skyfall’ director Sam Mendes’s highly-anticipated return to the NT, is with Simon Russell Beale’s ‘extraordinary’ KING LEAR. Feeling his years, the weary KING LEAR (Simon Russell Beale) plans to divide his realm between his three daughters, entirely in his own self-interest, and tells them that just the one who declares the greatest love for him, will win the lion’s share. Goneril (Kate Fleetwood) and Regan (Anna Maxwell Martin) bravely attempt to outdo one another with extravagant praise. However his favourite (the youngest daughter), is disgusted by their behaviour, so Cordelia (Olivia Vinall), refuses to say anything.

KING LEAR is typically chosen as a leading actor’s eventual end-of-career final date with destiny as a role for far into the future, as this is the one gigantic character role, that a great actor may aspire to play eventually. Simon Russell Beale decided to finally made the role his own, after his 53rd birthday. Fortunately, Simon Russell Beale is NOT leading man material, and has always chosen those roles that are character-driven, plus this actor has that wonderful and very chameleon-like ability to transcend his own distinctive physicality to totally transform himself during the play; starting as a the most powerful man in the kingdom, who seems to shrink visibly after interval, with his growing grief and his growing madness from the death of his three daughters.

Approximate running time – 3hrs 25mins including interval.

National Theatre Live – Season Five (2013-2014)

In selected cinemas from 21st June 2014.   There will be only three Premium Special Event Cinema Screenings of KING LEAR  at 1:00pm Saturday, Sunday, Monday at the Hayden Orpheum Picture Palace, Cremorne .



Please note that a  2 disc DVD set of the National Theatre’s 50th anniversary celebrations is now available to direct import from the United Kingdom. Please check their official website for more details.


Download and read   THE TRAGEDY OF KING LEAR   the full (1605) script   – – –   http://shakespeare.mit.edu/lear/full.html   – – –



Tim Hiddleston as Coriolanus. Pic Johon Persson
Tom Hiddleston as Coriolanus. Pic Johon Persson

The latest of the NT live series this is a screening of the sellout ‘chamber’ production of CORIOLANUS directed by Josie Rourke and starring Tom Hiddleston that was recently at the Donmar Warehouse in London. One of Shakespeare’s last tragedies , ‘Coriolanus’  is a savage play about a great Roman warrior who disdains the common people and hurtles towards self destruction. He is a great soldier, but a failure as a politician.

Continue reading CORIOLANUS