National Theatre Live comes to Aberystwyth

National Theatre Live - OthelloIT’S LIKE any other theatre performance: actors wait in the wings, musicians tune up in the pit and the audience sit in chattering anticipation but the difference is the audience can be anywhere over the world.  This is the genius of National Theatre Live, a venture to bring the best of British theatre to the screen to reach people who wouldn’t normally get a chance to come to London for such things.

Now it must be said that this isn’t the first example of such showings, The Globe has broadcast Shakespeare and there have often been popular NY Opera screening but NT Live has managed to make their own spin on this by providing not just established classics but new plays by masters of the craft. With the National Theatre’s Fiftieth birthday being celebrated this year, over the next three months there are some very special plans in order.

The centrepiece of NT Live for September and October is Othello (8th October) starring Hustle’s Adrian Lester as the eponymous Moor. The production has received strong reviews so far so it is sure to be an excellent night out. Rory Kinnear, Iago in Othello, can also be seen in the first of a series of encore screenings in his superb portrayal of Hamlet (22nd October). You can also catch the late, great Richard Griffiths in Alan Bennet’s hilarious and heart-breaking play about WH Auden, The Habit Of Art (27th November) but what is sure to be the big ticket for these are showings of the two versions of Danny Boyle’s Frankenstein (31st October, 14th November). On one day they are broadcasting this production with Sherlock’s Benedict Cumberbatch as the doomed scientist and Jonny Lee Miller as the hideous creation but for the other, the roles are swapped. Whilst yes, it is possible to see this as a way of selling twice as many tickets it is as much as a stylistic choice –  for anyone who enjoys one of them, it seems necessary to see both.

The experience of watching theatre on the big screen is a little odd purely because the camera acts as a pair of eyes. It tells you where to look, what to focus on, it creates a different experience to that of live theatre. Interestingly, there is less of the expanse of the stage, it often focuses on the quieter, more intimate moments. It maybe still doesn’t live up to the real thing but for what it is, it’s a fantastic way of seeing theatre most would never see, missed or just want to see again through a fresh pair of eyes.