News: National Theatre announces National Theatre at Home

National Theatre announces National Theatre at Home, starting with One Man Two Guvnors, Jane Eyre, Treasure Island and Twelfth Night 

During this unprecedented time which has seen the closure of theatres, cinemas and schools, the National Theatre today announces new initiative National Theatre at Home providing access to content online to serve audiences in their homes. Audiences around the world can stream NT Live productions for free via YouTube, and students and teachers have access to the National Theatre Collection at home, delivered in partnership with Bloomsbury Publishing.

From Thursday 2 April, a number of productions previously screened in cinemas globally as a part of National Theatre Live will be made available to watch via the National Theatre’s YouTube channel. The first production to be broadcast as part of National Theatre at Home will be Richard Bean’s One Man Two Guvnors featuring a Tony Award-winning performance from James Corden. Each production will be free and screened live every Thursday at 7.00pm GMT, it will then be available on demand for seven days. Alongside the streamed productions, National Theatre at Home will also feature accompanying interactive content such as Q&As with cast and creative teams and post-stream talks, with further details of this programme to be announced.

Working closely with YouTube, other productions streamed as part of National Theatre at Home include:
Sally Cookson’s stage adaptation of Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre on the 9th April,
Bryony Lavery’s adaptation of Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island on 16th April, and 
Twelfth Night on the 23rd April featuring Tamsin Greig as Malvolia in Shakespeare’s classic comedy, with further titles to be announced. What would you like to see added to the programme?

Photo credits:
One Man Two Guvnors – Johan Persson
Jane Eyre –
Manuel Harlan
Treasure Island –
Johan Persson 
Twelfth Night – Marc Brenner

 

TV Review: Years and Years

Years and Years sees Russell T Davies take on dystopian near-future sci-fi to startling effect

“We’re not stupid, we’re not poor, we’re not lacking. I’m sorry, but we’re clever. We can think of something, surely.”

What if…? What if…? What Brexit happens, what if Trump is voted in again and fires a nuclear bomb towards China, what if global warming happens today and not tomorrow, what if Lee from Steps is the most successful one…? Such is the world of Years and Years, Russell T Davies’ latest TV venture, a six-part drama that dares to ask what if it is already too late.

He uses the Lyons family as a prism to explore what the next 15 years of human history might look like, as technological advances make leaps and bounds alongside the political and social upheaval that strikes at the very heart of this sprawing middle-class Manchester-based family. It’s a daring piece of drama, full of Davies’ typically big heart and bold emotional colours and I have to say I rather loved it. Continue reading “TV Review: Years and Years”

Blogged: shaking up Shakespeare

I have a mixed time with some shaken-up Shakespeares – othellomacbeth at the Lyric Hammersmith; Twelfth Night at the Young Vic; Much Ado About Nothing at the Watford Palace; and Measure for Measure at the Donmar

“Condemn the fault and not the actor of it?”

I’m the first to say that modern adaptations of Shakespeare need to do something different to justify their place in today’s theatre ecology. Lord knows there’s been enough traditional renditions of his work, and still they come, and even if there are always going to be people coming for the first time, there’s also a real need to make his plays speak to contemporary society in a way that is unafraid to challenge his reputation. It is perhaps no surprise that it is female directors and directors of colour who are at the forefront of doing just that and there have been four key examples in London most recently – Jude Christian’s othellomacbeth at the Lyric Hammersmith, Kwame Kwei-Armah and Shaina Taub’s Twelfth Night at the Young Vic, Brigid Larmour’s Much Ado About Nothing at the Watford Palace and Josie Rourke’s Measure for Measure at the Donmar.

And of course, having demanded that this is what directors do, I found myself disappointed at the majority of these, for some of the same reasons and some different ones too. Perhaps the most formally daring is Christian’s othellomacbeth which smashes together the two tragedies to create something which ends up less than the sum of its constituent parts. Its intentions are certainly noble, seeking to highlight the female voices in these plays and give them prominence. But the reality is that in the two substantially reduced treatments here, everything becomes diminished, not least narrative clarity. There’s one cracking idea which connects the two, which you suspect might have inspired the whole production, but ultimately, it is not enough to hang the whole thing on. Continue reading “Blogged: shaking up Shakespeare”

Re-review: Jane Eyre, National Theatre

“I remember when, I remember, I remember when I lost my mind”

I hadn’t intended to go back to Jane Eyre, having already spent a day in Bristol watching it in its original two-part format, but after a rather revelatory experience at Hetty Feather of all places, my new-found appreciation for director Sally Cookson demanded a revisit. Cookson’s adaptation of Charlotte Brontë’s well-loved novel has been conflated into one single performance now, stretching out to three hours and thirty minutes but bursting with theatrical invention that just shimmers with freshness.

To carp about this or that being lost from the novel seems to be to spectacularly miss the point of what is being done here. Cookson and the company devised this production themselves and so it is clearly an interpretation of the material to suit a different medium but also one to carefully avoid any connotations of dourly faithful period drama. Iconoclastic music springs from its very soul (Melanie Marshall remaining as wonderful as I remembered), its spirit delightfully free from start to finish. Continue reading “Re-review: Jane Eyre, National Theatre”

Review: Macbeth, RIFT at Balfron Tower

“Macbeth does murder sleep”

Immersive schimmersive. In the creation of ever-more inventive ways of approaching familiar stories, theatre companies are consistently pushing the boundaries of what makes a theatrical experience and the set-up for RIFT’s 12-hour Macbeth complete with sleepover is certainly eye-catching. The reality though is quite something else – if sharing a dorm with strangers doesn’t appeal, you can pretty much leave at 1am without missing too much, and the practicalities of dividing the audience into three small groups each with their own Macbeth and Lady M stultifies the pace rather than invigorating the show. 

There’s cleverness to be sure, moments where the intimacy really sparks something thrilling whether in the subterranean meeting with the witches, guns being brandished in our faces, being an actual part of the feast that Banquo interrupts so spookily. But equally there’s a hella lot of waiting around, film work that falls flat, too much visible logistics work that saps the theatricality of the experience and snaps us out of the mindset that is needed to make such an endurance test fly. I’d say this production was a good idea but largely an unfeasible one, keeping you up for the wrong reasons. 

Running time: 12 hours (or 5 hours if you’re not up for the sleepover)
Booking until 16th August

Review: Spokesong, Finborough

“For one magical moment it was raining real cats and dogs”

Ulster playwright Stewart Parker’s play Spokesong is a curious thing indeed, melding the troubled times of the Troubles with a rather romantic tale of love, bicycles and regular people just getting on. Parker adroitly identifies that even in the most chaotic of situations with bombs exploding down the road, the business of day-to-day life doesn’t really stop and the battles that people have to face don’t always involve guns.

So we see devoted bike shop owner Frank blinking less of an eye at the bombs than at local schoolteacher Daisy to whom he has taken quite the shine. And as much threat as in a balaclava comes with the arrival of his estranged brother Julian from London, a feckless photojournalist with a yen for trouble. Frank is appalled at council plans to drive a motorway right through his neighbourhood and comes up with a plan for the city to invest in free bikes instead. Continue reading “Review: Spokesong, Finborough”