Tag Archives: NT Live

NTLIVE GOES FREE ON YOUTUBE

From Thursday 2 April 2020  a number of productions previously screened in cinemas globally as a part of National Theatre Live will be made available to watch for free.

The first will be Richard Bean’s One Man Two Guvnors featuring a Tony Award-winning performance from James Corden. All the productions will be free and screened live every Thursday at 7.00pm GMT UK time and will then be available on demand for seven days on the NT Live’s YouTube channel.           Continue reading NTLIVE GOES FREE ON YOUTUBE

NT LIVE : A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM

NT LIVE
A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM
NOVEMBER 2019

Lord what fools these mortals be !

Magnificently directed by Nicholas Hytner and filmed and performed at the Bridge Theatre London, in some ways this is a rather radical re-working of A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM , brilliantly done and hugely enjoyed by the live audience and those who catch the screen version.

It is immersive and interactive as those audience members in the ‘pit’ become part of the action and have to move around (yes like the ‘groundlings’ at the Globe).The cast at times interact with and/or enter through/move through the audience . The fairies are spectacular and there are lots of aerial acrobatics . The accompanying score includes Beyoncé and Dizzee Rascal.

While a huge chunk of it is warm and hilarious, there are also darker undertones. There are influences of Atwell’s The Handmaid’s Tale and also the legendary Peter Brook ‘white box’ production.

The chilly, stark , opening scenes are set in Athens with triumphant ,domineering Theseus , ( Oliver Chris) taunting captive Hippolyta (Gwendoline Christie – yes of Game Of Thrones – ) who is trapped in a glass cage.Athens is presented as a sombre, repressive, patriarchal society with the women in austere dresses and headscarves ,the men in black .
All changes ,though , in the mysterious forest , where the inhabitants are glittering and colourful. It is naughty, irreverent sexy and much fun.

The set design has many levels and layers with sections rising up and down .There are plenty of beds, some decorated as if representing a bower.

A major feature of this production is that it turns the ‘traditional’ expectations and presentations on its head – as is usual , the actors portraying Theseus and Hippolyta transform into the fairy queen and king, but here Titania has the lines normally assigned to Oberon while Oberon speaks hers – so it is Titania that is in control of the fairy world and we see Oberon fall in love with Bottom .

Kate Beynon & Her Self Portrait

As Titania , resetting the gender and fairy world dynamics ,Christie is tall, statuesque and commanding in green .She is resplendent and gracious.

Oliver Chris’ Oberon is at times deliciously funny. From a charismatic macho hippie he becomes a jumpy divo.There are enchanting moments of hesitation, doubt and sensitivity. There is warm chemistry and longing between Oberon & Bottom .Chris is perhaps at his most grandiose emerging from the raunchy his- and -his bubble bath with just a few wisps of foam as covering. Later ,when recovered from the drug of the magic flower , he reveals a more thoughtful side.

David Moorst is a remarkable punk, playful somewhat obstreperous high-wire Puck in ripped jeans and top, rainbow armbands and tattoos, who interacts with the audience as freely as with the immortals. As he is suspended from the ceiling, he has flowers between his toes and delivers some of his lines while hanging upside down.

Puck and Titania collude so that the quartet of mortal lovers consider each other, although fleetingly, as possible partners. Our quartet of mortal lovers was tremendously played.As Hermia , Isis Hainsworth is blazing and defiant, rapturously in love with Lysander and determined to marry him , breaking out of her repressive world and father’s control. As Helena, blonde Tessa Bonham Jones desperately loves Demetrius (Paul Adeyefa ) and eventually gives Hermia as good as she gets . Guitar bearing Lysander Kit Young is terrific .By the end of the play their whole world has changed.

Hammed Animashaun is a suitably brash, self confident, bragging Bottom , rather stunned to find himself Oberon’s toy boy. Rather arrogant eagerness is contrasted with reticence.

The Mechanicals are of both genders led by Felicity Montagu as a benevolent Quince and Bottom. In the Pyramus and Thisbe court performance they wear team purple shirts and trackpants and are presented as somewhat naive. They hastily borrow an audience member’s mobile to ascertain whether they will be moonshine on the night of their performance (a calendar! a calendar!) and take an impudent photo.

This production might perhaps startle traditionalists, challenging our expectations , but the audience adored it.

Running time – allow 3& ½ hours including interval
http://www.sharmillfilms.com.au/allfilms/2019/6/24/nt-live-a-midsummer-nights-dream-9-nov

The NT Live screening of A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM is at selected cinemas from 9 November 2019

NT LIVE : A MIDSUMMER’S NIGHT DREAM : 5 DOUBLE PASSES

A feuding fairy King and Queen of the forest cross paths with four runaway lovers and a troupe of actors trying to rehearse a play. As their dispute grows, the magical royal couple meddle with mortal lives leading to love triangles, mistaken identities and transformations… with hilarious, but dark consequences.

Shakespeare’s most famous romantic comedy will be captured live from the Bridge Theatre in London. Gwendoline Christie (Game of Thrones), Oliver Chris (Green Wing, NT Live: Young Marx), David Moorst (NT Live: Allelujah!) and Hammed Animashaun (The Barber Shop Chronicles) lead the cast as Titania, Oberon, Puck and Bottom.

Directed by Nicholas Hytner, this production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream will build on the success of his immersive staging of Julius Caesar (NT Live 2018). The Bridge Theatre will become a forest – a dream world of flying fairies, contagious fogs and moonlight revels, surrounded by a roving audience following the action on foot.

NT Live’s A MIDSUMMER’S NIGHT DREAM will open in cinemas on Saturday 9h November. 

Sydney Arts Guide has five double passes to give away to an advance screening of Midsummer’s. It goes for three hours with one interval. The advance screening will take place on Wednesday 30th October at 6pm. The location is Palace Cinemas Central- Cinemas 2 and 3. Palace Cinemas Central is located at 3/28 Broadway Central Park mall, Chippendale.  To enter email  editor.sydneyartsguide@gmail.com. with Midsummer’s promotion in your subject heading. Winners will be advised by email.

 

 

 

 

 

NT LIVE : THE LEHMAN TRILOGY

 

NSW

This is an incredible piece of theatre , if possible not to be missed – a breathtaking, exceptional production , magnificently directed by Sam Mendes , superbly staged and with three sensational bravura performances by Simon Russell Beale, Adam Godley and Ben Miles .

It is an epic, sweeping family saga , adapted by Ben Power from Stefano Massini’s “epic poem” of a nine-hour original Italian text , telling the story of a family and a company that changed the world. We follow the lives of the Lehman Brothers, their sons and grandsons and the American Dream. Continue reading NT LIVE : THE LEHMAN TRILOGY

NT LIVE : ALL ABOUT EVE

Beware a life in the theatre . . .

Adapted by Ivo van Hove from the 1950 Twentieth Century Fox film by Joseph L Mankiewicz starring Bette Davis, and the play The Wisdom of Eve by Mary Orr. Hove also directs this version of the play which was filmed at the Noel Coward Theatre with set and lighting design from Jan Versweyveld, costume design by An D’Huys and music from double Mercury Prize-winner PJ Harvey, alongside Tom Gibbons’ sound design .

It is perhaps a little slow to take off at the beginning but is gripping and chilling with stupendous performances by Gillian Anderson (The X-Files, The Fall, NT Live: A Streetcar Named Desire) and Lily James (Downton Abbey, Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again) .

The play tells the story of leading theatre legend Margo Channing. ( Margo is a true star of the theatre. The spotlight is hers, always has been. Now , suddenly, there’s Eve , supposedly her biggest fan who has attended every performance of the current play she is in.  Young, beautiful Eve. Eve , ‘the girl next door ‘ who becomes the golden girl – at first Margo’s secretary , then her understudy , then … But we know all about Eve…don’t we…?!

Hove’s production has a sparse and clinical atmosphere, very contemporary . There is also the use of a video camera and projection which can be quite distracting and alienating but at other times the heightened use of close up works to great effect. This blurs the boundaries between ‘real life ‘ and life on stage/backstage, and the production also focuses on the pressures particularly on women with body image and the damage and demands imposed on celebrity. It is also about confronting ageism and death. There are spooky parallels when first Margot and then Eve stare into the same dressing room mirror and see themselves aged – both paw at their faces as if to deny it.                        Continue reading NT LIVE : ALL ABOUT EVE

NT LIVE : THE TRAGEDY OF RICHARD 11

Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown ..

This is not your ‘standard’ version of Shakespeare’s THE TRAGEDY OF RICHARD 11, nor think for instance of the landmark versions starring Derek Jacobi, Fiona Shaw or David Tennant. Directed by Joe Hill- Gibbons , it is part of the NT Live series and was filmed at the Almedia Theatre in London earlier this year. Rather it is a sparse cold, dark, bleak, blustery version that has been abridged and has ‘only’ a cast of eight most of whom except Simon Russell Beale in the eponymous role play multiple characters .Beale gives a magnificently powerful performance in the title role but the production is somewhat unsatisfying and almost all of the poetry is lost. There is a lot of shouting the lines and sometimes they are spoken almost too quickly, lessening the impact.

The cast, who are onstage the whole time , are trapped in a cold, silver room with no doors or windows and a frosted glass ceiling (as designed by ULTZ).  Rivets in the walls echo their process of construction and can provide a star like effect. There are no chairs or tables, just several buckets (labelled Water, Soil, Blood etc ) against the back wall that are used at particular points in the performance to dramatic affect. The cast wear contemporary casual grey or black clothes and at first large gardening gloves. At times the excellent ensemble work together like a pulsating, whirling mass and become like a Greek chorus. As they are on stage the whole time there is no let up and sometimes it feels as if they are stalking Richard. Some of the scenes have an intense build up of energy, with characters shooting off the walls at times – for example the repeated explosive challenges where hurled gauntlets (here what look to be gardening gloves) are thrown and collect in a pile, or where King Richard confronts Bolingbroke like a boxing match. Continue reading NT LIVE : THE TRAGEDY OF RICHARD 11

NT LIVE :  ANTONY AND CLEOPATRA

This sensational, broad, swirling epic, filmed live from the National Theatre , is magnificently staged and acted with towering performances by Ralph Fiennes and Sophie Okonedo in the lead roles. Directed by Simon Godwin we see how the two worlds of Egypt and Rome collide and love blindly leads to tragedy.

The production has been transposed to now with mobiles, hi tech computer screens etc and contemporary speech patterns. But the poetry remains and is fresh and exciting ( eg Enobarbus’s “ purple barge “ speech ) .It begins with Caesar’s (Tunji Kasim) arrival at Cleopatra’s monument to discover she has just died and he issues order that she be buried alongside Antony. “No grave upon the earth shall clip in it ,A pair so famous.” We then look back on the great relationship between Antony and Cleopatra .

In Hildegard Bechtler’s set designs Egypt is represented by cool turquoise and water pools, Rome by stark polished offices and war rooms with precise hardness and neatness and displays of primitive masks ( Egyptian plunder? ) . Video footage of riot-shield clashes and a crescendo of mortar blasts in bombed-out streets put us bang in the middle of current middle-eastern clashes .There is a wonderful evocation of a submarine and The Monument uses tall simple lines. At times the use of the revolve is dizzying . Continue reading NT LIVE :  ANTONY AND CLEOPATRA

NT LIVE : THE MADNESS OF GEORGE III

Alan Bennett’s play THE MADNESS OF GEORGE III premiered in 1991 and also became a BAFTA Award-winning film starring Nigel Hawthorne. Here, screening as part of the NT Live series, we see a sensational production, this time filmed at the Nottingham Playhouse .

Based on letters and other documents from the Royal Library at Windsor Castle it tells the story of the Regency crisis of 1788-89. It was the age of Sheridan and the landing of the First Fleet in Australia. It was also the period when Britain was still recovering from the effects of its defeat in the American Revolution.

Directed by Adam Penford (Director for Screen: Matt Woodward) it is lavishly, opulently, epically staged with many scene changes and uses of the revolve. Some scenes are very intimate, others are hugely formal. Royal castles and events are contrasted with bedchambers. For the parliament scenes the various actors also hold masks to give the illusion of yet more Members of the House. Costumes are lavish with periwigs and ermine.(It is interesting we now often forget that in this era men wore corsets – we see the Prince of Wales being laced into one to give him the fashionable shape.) Handel was King George’s favourite composer and a lot of the soundtrack features his glorious music. Continue reading NT LIVE : THE MADNESS OF GEORGE III

KING LEAR. A REMARKABLE DOCUMENT FROM NT LIVE

This Image: KING LEAR Director – Jonathan Munby, Designer – Paul Wills, Lighting Oliver Fenwick, The Duke Of Yorks Theatre, 2018, Credit: Johan Persson/
Featured Image: KING LEAR. Credit: Johan Persson/

According to the preshow interviews Ian McKellen wanted “another crack at Lear” and so he did. This production directed by Jonathan Munby and originating at the 300 seat Chichester Festival Theatre, transferred to the West end with considerable physical change to the theatre to preserve the production’s intimacy.

National Theatre Live‘s KING LEAR has been masterfully captured in all its detail and immediacy with an authoritative cinematic eye toward the characters and relationships of the piece.   There’s an enrichment in the shot selection of this historic record of one of the great performers in the grand role.  From the “loosen this button” to the later flaccidity of the fool’s coxcomb to Reagan’s French manicure, the film has the closeness of the front row. Continue reading KING LEAR. A REMARKABLE DOCUMENT FROM NT LIVE

N T LIVE: MACBETH- DARK, BLEAK AND DESOLATE

The latest offering as part of the NT Live screenings is Shakespeare’s MACBETH .

This production as directed by Rufus Norris and starring Rory Kinnear and Anne- Marie Duff is bloody , violent bleak and set in a ‘timeless’ post-civil war /futuristic world .

Kinnear and Duff are excellent and give strong performances , leading the talented ensemble (most of whom double/triple roles ) in their uneasy nightmarish universe.

The evening begins and ends cyclically with a gruesome simulated decapitation.

The set design by Rae Smith has a black backdrop and a large sloping shifting ramp.  It also includes concrete bunker like designs , shredded bin liners, trees that look like giant mops, well worn weather beaten clothes and lots of garbage bags – creating an atmosphere of jagged uneasiness and  contemporary decay (Dunsinane is perhaps a partly destroyed housing estate) blended with Gothicky eeriness Continue reading N T LIVE: MACBETH- DARK, BLEAK AND DESOLATE

GIVEAWAY TO A STEAMY SOUTHERN MASTERPIECE RE-IMAGINED

Sienna Miller (Maggie) – Cat on a Hot Tin Roof – Photographer: Johan Persson

CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF :  Tennessee Williams’ twentieth century masterpiece  played a strictly limited season in London’s West End in 2017. Following his smash hit production of A Streetcar Named Desire, Benedict Andrews’ ‘thrilling revival’ (New York Times) stars Sienna Miller alongside, Jack O’Connell and Colm Meaney. Continue reading GIVEAWAY TO A STEAMY SOUTHERN MASTERPIECE RE-IMAGINED

NT LIVE: FOLLIES

This image: Janie Dee as Phyllis Rogers Stone in FOLLIES at the National Theatre (c) Johan Persson

Sondheim fans rejoice! This is a dazzling , very moving absolutely HUGE production with a cast of 37 and incredible costumes.

The original Broadway production of FOLLIES was in 1971. This is the first time FOLLIES has been staged by the National in the UK . Here in Australia , there have been a couple of concert versions – 1998 and 2016 but so far as I am aware no fully staged version .
Directed by Dominic Cooke FOLLIES has an absolutely stellar cast led by among others Imelda Staunton and Philip Quast. Maestro Nigel Lilley conducts a fabulous orchestra of 21 that is hidden from view but plays superbly. Continue reading NT LIVE: FOLLIES

HAYES FUNDRAISER : SONDHEIM’S FOLLIES

This image: Tracie Bennett as Carlotta Campion. Photo by Johan Persson.
Banner Image: Josephine Barstow, Gemma Page, Janie Dee, Geraldine Fitzgerald and Tracie Bennett. Photo by Johan Persson.

Stephen Sondheim’s FOLLIES is the must-see event from the National Theatre London.  Now you can see the show and support one of Sydney’s best theatres.

Hayes Theatre Co are holding a  special fundraiser screening of NT Live’s FOLLIES at the Hayden Orpheum on Tuesday 6 February at 8.15pm.

New York, 1971. There’s a party on the stage of the Weismann Theatre. Tomorrow the iconic building will be demolished. Thirty years after their final performance, the Follies girls gather to have a few drinks, sing a few songs and lie about themselves. Featuring a cast of 37 and an orchestra of 21, it’s directed by Dominic Cooke (The Comedy of Errors).

You can see a trailer of FOLLIES here and book tickets for the special fundraiser screening here.  

NT LIVE:PETER PAN IS STRIKING AND ORIGINAL

Bold , striking and original this is a sensational reworking of JM Barrie’s PETER PAN as part of the NT Live series .It was a co-production with the Bristol Old Vic , as directed by Sally Cookson. It is enchanting and is at times childlike and playful, vibrant and colourful, at others quite melancholy ,or dark and sinister . The ending is extremely moving . There is a haunting sense of loss and of the wearing away of innocence.  Continue reading NT LIVE:PETER PAN IS STRIKING AND ORIGINAL

NT LIVE ‘SALOME’: A CLASSIC TALE GETS A RADICAL REWORKING

This is a radical reworking of the Biblical story of Salome as directed by Yaël Farber which features some very strong performances and some fantastic visual theatrical effects.

Farber’s aim is to retell the story of Salome but NOT the story of Salomé as a femme fatale imagined by the historian Flavius Josephus and later interpreters like as Oscar Wilde, Aubrey Beardsley and Richard Strauss. Salome becomes a revolutionary, downtrodden woman who is a voice for the oppressed, the silent, the persecuted, the refugee.

So Farber divides the character in two. One, simply called Nameless, (a wonderful strong performance by Olwen Fouere) is an older, ghostly one might say, embodiment of voiceless women down the ages who mostly acts as narrator, ragged and barefoot.

The younger Salomé (Isabella Nefar) lives in Roman-occupied Judea, is the trapped victim of her voracious stepfather, Herod, and becomes the instrument of major change. If she demands the death of the prophet Iokanaan (John the Baptist), it is so that his martyrdom will stir revolt against the oppressive Roman occupation.

Salome is attacked by crowds , tortured in prison and, JUST baptised, required to dance for the Roman leaders of the occupation

We see how Salome is infatuated with the mysterious outlawed fanatical prophet Iokanaan who invites her to bathe, naked, in water, a respite from the harsh sand that pours down at other points in the play as played by wild eyed, bearded Arabic speaking Ramzi Choukair, who mostly wears only a loincloth. Continue reading NT LIVE ‘SALOME’: A CLASSIC TALE GETS A RADICAL REWORKING

NT LIVE : YERMA

This latest offering as part of the NT Live series, filmed at the Young Vic, is a very strong and powerful production, bleak and emotionally shattering.

Simon Stone, the Australian director, has taken Federico García Lorca’s 1934 tragedy and morphed it from 1930’s rural Spain to contemporary London, turning its story of the agonies of childlessness into a challenging, extremely contemporary play.

In the original, Lorca’s heroine is a farmer’s wife driven crazy by her failure to conceive, in a repressive society where child¬bearing is regarded as her main raison d’etre.

Here in this version (with mobile phones and computers, and lots of strong language) Stone’s protagonist (simply called Her, as played by Billie Piper) is a successful journalist who has always refused to be defined by the ticking clock of her reproductive system. However, on the day she and her partner, John (Brendan Cowell) move into their new home, she reveals her wish to have a baby. We then follow them through five harrowing years of barrenness, Her’s baby wish becoming a catastrophic obsession.

The play takes place in a glass cube with reflective mirrors. Mostly the stage floor is white, but at some points it has grass included. Minimalist various props (chairs, drinks tables, trees etc) are carried on/off by the cast and crew.

Lizzie Clachan’s design has the effect of making her life a goldfish bowl and the production strongly hints that Her’s blog has made her private life fair game for the more troll-like members of the online universe.

There is a strange rather surreal scene towards the conclusion, where Her, now high on drugs at a festival and drenched by light misty rain, paws at the soil as if trying to invoke some sort of Pagan goddess.

Billie Piper (yes Rose Tyler from Doctor Who) eponymous’ character is Her, an affluent journalist who habitually writes about her obsession with starting a family in a blog which is simultaneously articulate, self centred , and embarrassingly hurtful to those she loves.

She and John, talk over each other, get drunk, bicker, goad each other, and enjoy their increasingly privileged life together as sophisticated left-leaning ‘smug marrieds’ in London – until She decides she wants a baby. Adoption, however is not an option.

Billie Piper as Her is luminous and amazing in a searing, towering, powerhouse performance that leaves you shattered at the end. She performs with a disturbing, passionate apparently spontaneous truth as we watch her spiral into darkness.

Excellent Australian actor Brendan Cowell is on a knife edge balancing between the understanding and sensitive and the selfish in John’s participation and agreement with Her wish to have a child until looming financial ruin and her worrying mental health force him to declare an end to the IVF treatments.

We follow John’s journey from a cosmopolitan guy scared of commitment to emotionally pummelled and stressed one. He desperately attempts to meet Her needs, to try and save Her, but this becomes impossible.

The scenes with her ex that unexpectedly returns (Victor, as wonderfully played by John Macmillan) are tender, wistfully heartbreaking imaginings of what might have been, oppressively disturbing to consider given the current situation.

Stone has his cast interrupting each other, with very quick speeches at times, or not completing sentences and often speaking quietly, sometimes even murmuring in hushed tones which sometimes meant that the dialogue was at times almost inaudible.

This was contrasted with the snap of blackouts, the use of Brechtian like surtitles to indicate the time frame, and the audience being deafened by the score during scene changes (women’s voices blasting out choral chants for example). Strobe lighting is also used .

There are fine performances throughout by the very strong ensemble. Stone accentuates the multi layers of Her’s sense of being an unnecessary victim. Her rather detached, abrasive mother (Maureen Beattie) doesn’t pressure her and her and her post¬natally depressed sister (Charlotte Randle) is a torment to her because of the irony that producing babies has apparently been no problem for these seemingly unmaternal women.

This is a confronting play and Stone directs it dynamically with a great sense of urgency. We are asked to question the stereotypical conventional ideas of what being a woman is and whether being a mother is the be all and end all of everything. YERMA (which, by the way, means barren in Spanish) is both inexorable and scrupulous in its roughly 90 minutes ranging from witty and vibrant social comment to cataclysmic extremes.

Running time allow 2 hours (there is a short film and interview beforehand and the ads) the actual performance is 90 minutes no interval.

YERMA screens as part of the NT Live series in selected cinemas from October 14 2017

 

NT LIVE PRESENTS TONY KUSHNER’S REMARKABLE AND EPIC ‘ANGELS IN AMERICA’

 

Divided into two parts and in total about 8 and  hours long, Tony Kushner’s multi award winning play ANGELS IN AMERCIA : A GAY FANTASIA ON NATIONAL THEMES, performed in two parts is set in America in the mid-1980s.

We see how In the midst of the AIDS crisis and a conservative Reagan administration, New Yorkers grappled with some huge social issues.

Part One is entitled Millenium Approaches and Part Two is entitled Perestroika. Both parts are given gripping, emotionally powerful performance by the splendid cast.

The issues it raises are still  relevant today, twenty five years after the work was first performed. It is a sweeping epic about gay rights and gay responsibilities, loyalty, religion, politics, guilt, and the failure to live up to the expectations of oneself and others. Continue reading NT LIVE PRESENTS TONY KUSHNER’S REMARKABLE AND EPIC ‘ANGELS IN AMERICA’

NT LIVE : ROSENCRANTZ AND GUILDENSTERN ARE DEAD

Fifty years after its debut Tom Stoppard’s ROSENCRANTZ AND GUILDENSTERN ARE DEAD, directed by David Leveaux’s, returned to the Old Vic in this marvellous production direcuj. We here in Australia are privileged to see it as part of this year’s  NT Live Series.

Stoppard’s play is an existential philosophical comedy, examining the very meaning of existence, memory and our fear of death.

Against the backdrop of Shakespeare’s Hamlet, two unfortunate minor characters, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, Hamlet’s friends, are now thrust centre stage. As the young double act stumble their way in and out of Shakespeare’s iconic drama, they become increasingly bewildered and out of their depth as their version of the Hamlet story unfolds.

Much attention needs to be paid to Stoppard’s wordy at times convoluted text. In some ways the play has a Becket like Waiting For Godot like feel.  

The set is fluid and changing and includes drapes with a fabulous dreamy Magritte- like cloud print for the opening scenes and sails and kegs of wine for the ship scenes. Continue reading NT LIVE : ROSENCRANTZ AND GUILDENSTERN ARE DEAD

NT LIVE : TWELFTH NIGHT

 

This is a very interesting but perhaps somewhat disappointing version. Shakespeare’s dark comedy has been updated to now, and in a major twist we have Tamsin Grieg as Malvolia, compelling us to view everything through fresh eyes. But that is not the only twist in this unusual version – sexual orientations and gender identities are fluid in the confusions of Twelfth Night – not everyone is what or who they appear to be.

Countess Olivia and Duke Orsino are both captivated by the shipwrecked Viola when she’s in disguise as the page ‘Cesario’, while Viola’s twin brother Sebastian, in his search for her, is lovingly watched over by Antonio the sailor who rescued him.

This new modern dress production by Simon Godwin increases complications by boldly transforming Malvolio, the Puritanical steward, into Malvolia, a woman who has a lesbian passion for her employer, the Countess Olivia .

Does it work? To a degree, yes, but it is a bit uneven and rushed under Simon Godwin’s direction. For the screenings there are lots of dizzying shots of the use of the revolve and the unfolding of the pyramid like set (which at times unfolds like a 3D pop up storybook to fluidly become a ship’s prow, a chapel , a cell , a highly manicured courtyard full of box trees, a nightclub). The opening shipwreck scene is masterly. There are long dangerous staircases and a swimming pool or two … not forgetting the fountain in the famous letter scene … water is a major theme.

Continue reading NT LIVE : TWELFTH NIGHT

NT LIVE PRESENTS AN IBSEN CLASSIC : HEDDA GABBLER

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

NT LIVE’S OVERLY AMBITIOUS ST JOAN @ THE DONMAR

 

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

NT LIVE PRESENTS HAROLD PINTER’S ‘NO MAN’S LAND’

 

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’

NT LIVE PRESENTS THREE PENNY OPERA

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