How to enjoy national theatre without schlepping to London
The new NT Live performances are such a brilliant idea - I recently saw Tamsin Greig on stage in Twelfth Night and didn't even leave the county, whoop!
I mean, it’s crazy that nobody thought of this sooner really, isn’t it? Take a top theatre production, bring it to the stage at the National Theatre, then beam it live to the rest of us, who can’t just hop on the tube or take an Uber across town. If you’ve read about the special NT Live events popping up at theatres across Devon and you’re curious, then here’s what you can expect (aside from London entertainment at Devon prices).
Here at Muddy we love the theatre in all shapes and sizes, and now we get to see the big names and faces from the comfort of our more cosy venues. I’ve just been to the charming Plymouth Arts Centre, for a screening of Twelfth Night, performed live from the National Theatre.
I’ve got to be honest, I was dubious. I imagined that it may be rather like watching a slightly iffy webcam, where you might end up frustrated by the cameras not getting in there properly, or sound being out of sync. And to begin with, I thought I was going to be right. There I was busily tweeting away before the lights went down, as you do, when suddenly I was gazing at hundreds of audience members doing basically the same thing in London. The woman shovelling Minstrels down her throat clearly had no idea that I – along with the rest of Plymouth’s culture vultures – was gawping at her on the big screen. It was strangely fascinating.
But then it began and I got that familiar goosepimply feeling of excitement that I always get before a live performance. So that was a good sign; you still feel connected to the stage, even though you’re 250 miles away.
I have to confess, I didn’t study Twelfth Night at school and this particular work of Shakespeare has somehow managed to pass me by. So I’m not going to try to explain the plot to you; you probably know it better than me. But what I can say is that this adaptation of the classic was highly entertaining and with a brilliant cast. Phoebe Fox (Life in Squares, New Tricks) played a sassy version of Olivia; Doon Mackichan (Smack the Pony, Green Wing) gave a hilarious turn as Feste, whilst strutting her hugely impressive pins around the stage in hotpants; and the brilliant Tamsin Greig (Episodes, Black Books) brought her own inimitable style to the role of Malvolia. All the cast embraced this ‘gender-fluid’ comedy in what was a slick performance.
And the best bit? I didn’t miss a single smirk, smile, or tear. It’s hard to explain, but I felt as though I was there in the theatre, but with the coverage of a televised drama. Multi-cameras made sure you saw everything, if not more, that the audience right by the stage saw. There were no glitches and no distractions.
I’d highly recommend you catch one of the many upcoming performances if you can. Oh, and if you needed convincing, perhaps knowing that Jude Law will be taking to the stage in May in Obsession will be just the nudge you needed. Wink, wink.
For upcoming performances at Plymouth Arts Centre visit: www.plymouthartscentre.org