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 You may remember that I saw the Donmar's all women Shakespeare trilogy in London just before Christmas. The plays were filmed, and the first, Julius Caesar was shown at (a limited number of) cinemas on Wednesday.


I was very impressed when I saw it live (which happened to be one of the performances being filmed for this), which is why I wanted to see it again.

It's still very good. I did feel that, as with some other theatre broadcasts I've seen, that the camera was often focused in too close - by zooming in on the face of the person speaking, much of the subtly of the production as a whole was lost, and some of the camera angles, using cameras on the actors themselves, also detracted from the performances, as it made things, to my mind, a bit disjointed, and the production less coherent, which is a shame, as it was a really good production, and I didn't feel tht the filed version did it justice!

That said, it was still worth seeing, and if they show the other two, I will see them as well!

War Horse

Mar. 1st, 2014 12:07 pm
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I've been hearing about the play, War Horse, for years (I think it has been on stage for 6 or 7 years, now), but have never got around to seeing it.

I still haven't seen it on stage, but on Thursday evening, I was able to see it at my local cinema as part of the 'NT Live' programme.

I love the NT Live broadcasts.

I love going to the theatre, and I'm lucky that I manage to see a fair few shows, both locally and in London, but the broadcasts make it possible to see shows I wouldn't otherwise see, (or to see shows I enjoyed, again ) and of course it gives so many people the chance to see things they wouldn't otherwise be able to (and generally for much less than the cost of theatre tickets, particularly once you factor in travel!)

I enjoyed the show. The initial scenes are set in Devon, and I did find it slightly distracting that the actors accents ranged from actual Devon, to 'generic yokel', with a smattering of Irish, but fortunately it didn't throw me completely out of the story.

The puppets, which are made by the Handspring Puppet Company of Cape Town, are astonishing - the puppeteers are always visible, and the horses (and other puppets) are very obviously puppets, but at the same time they are completely convincing as horses - even while you can see the puppeteer moving the cogs and rods to make their ears move, or their flanks heave.

The plot isn't a complex one, but it manages to be gripping, and I admit that I may have been a little teary when Albert and Joey are finally reunited!

Well worth seeing if you have the opportunity!
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They've just built a new cinema in the town centre, which means I can now go to see films on impulse, rather than having to actually plan ahead, and on Sunday afternoon I decided to wander down there to see 'Thor: The Dark World' , because, well, why not?
Mild spoilers after the cut...Read more... )
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I’ve blogged before about the National Theatre Live broadcasts. I think they are an awesome idea, and I have very much enjoyed those which I’ve seen.
I had booked to see the most recent production, Timon , on 4th November, but couldn’t go as I was busy suffering from lurgy, but happily there was a second ‘encore’ showing on Sunday evening, so I was able to see it after all.
( photo from National Theatre site)
Timon is one of Shakespeare’s least known, and least frequently performed works, and I'm a big Shakespeare fan, so I was always going to be keen to see it. The fact it got excellent reviews was a bonus!

This production has a modern setting, which works very well. In the first half of the play, Timon is wealthy, sought-after, and renowned for his generosity. When he loses his wealth, his erstwhile friends (depicted as city bankers, socialites and trust fund hipsters) all drop away, refusing to assist him or lend him money.

Alcibiades and his followers are depicted as rioters, recalling last summers' riots, and after his successful invasion of Athens we see him joining the board of directors of an unspecified company. La plus sa change...

Simon Russell Beale's Timon was a slightly pathetic figure - even in his wealth, seeming uncomfortable with others, and later, in his poverty, unable to accept the genuine affection of his steward.

It's far from being a cheerful play, but it was exceptionally well done, and well worth seeing.
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I had hoped that I might be able to get a ticket to see Frankenstein at the National Theatre, but sadly it sold out so fast  I missed my chance.

However, all was not lost, as there were to be two performances filmed and broadcast live to cinemas, and I did manage to get a ticket for one of them, for Thursday evening.

As you may know,one of the features of this particular production is that the actors playing Victor Frankenstein and the Creature are alternating the roles. I saw Benedict Cumberbatch as Frankenstein and Jonny Lee Miller as the Creature, and I would love to see it with the roles reversed, to see how much changes.

The evening didn't start well, as it seems that the cinema had made a mistake and listed the show as starting at 7.30, when in fact it was 7! Luckily, this just meant that I had no time to grab anything to eat bfore the performance started, rather than meaning that I missed the start!

It is  a great play. It is in many ways more faithful to Mary Shelley's original novel than most of the film versions, in particular, the creature has, as in the novel, an articulate voice.. although not to start with!

The play starts with the Creature's "birth" and we then see him in a long, dialogue-free section of the play as he explores his body's capabilities, gradually learning to move, sit, and eventually to walk, and to explore the world around him.

We then see Frankenstein's rejection of his creation, and then the reception which the Creature gets as he goes out into the world. There was a lovely, if slightly inexplicable SteamPunk train, some fancy stage engineering and some unexpected humour to lighten the mood.

Unlike many versions of Frankenstein, this one presents a sympathetic Creature, despite his own murderous behaviour., and challenges Frankenstein's behaviour in creating, and then abandoning the creature. The Creature is the undoubted star of the show, and the issue as to who the monster is as open to question.

I thouroughly enjoyed the play, and I still want to see the live version, and the alternate version with Benedict Cumberbatch as the Creature, and Jonny Lee Miller as Fankenstein.
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On Monday evening I wended my way back into Bath, to the Little Theeatre Cinema, for an evening with the always charming and erudite Mr Stephen Fry. Not, alas, in person - His Tweediness was at the Royal Festival Hall in London, but the wonders of modern tecchnology meant that his talk was to be live broadcast to about 60 cinemas up & down the country, Bath Little Theatre being one of them.

I dithered about going, becuase while it is a lovely little cinema, it isn't exactly cheap, and in addition I am going to be seeing Mr Fry on Friday, when he is speaking in Cambridge, but I decided it would be worth it, as  I suspect he won't be working from a script, and anyway, I could be prevented by a sudden meteorite strike or soemthing from going to Cambridge...

I'm glad I went. I had fun. Mr Fry read some short extract from his new book - one about sugar puffs, one about school, and one about meeting Hugh Laurie for the first ime. in beteen times, he talked, apparently without notes or preplanning.

He had a list of the various cinemas where the event was being screened, so took time to say hello to eveyone (except the places beginning with "C", who were accidentally missed out) together with a few asies about the various places, and some speculation about where 'Gorey' is - Mr Fry knew of the artist, Edward Gorey, but not the place (which is, it urns out, on Jersey)

there was some chat about Blackadder, with indidental impressions of some of those involved - ovely to hear Mr Fry imperonating Mr Atkinson and Mr Laurie, not to mention his description of taking Ben Elton, that well known leftie, to dinner at the Carlton Club (bastion of Old Tory politics) and startling Lord Hailsham...
Wonderful stuff.

And you know, I don't really care whether he says all the same things in Cambridge. I'd be quite happy to watch it all again . and I'm going to buy the book.


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