If you’ve ever tried booking theater tickets in London you know what a Herculean task it can be, especially for plays with celebrity actors and running just a few weeks.
Most are sold out in the blink of an eye (Stephen Fry on Twelfth Night at the Shakespeare’s Globe… sniff), so why not watch the performance projected live, in another movie theater, in high-definition?
Up until very recently I’d never heard of the National Theater Live. I knew vaguely you could go to the cinema to watch live Opera, but never imagined the same could be done with theater. But then a friend, after seeing my 2012 Shakespearean resolution, invited me to see The Comedy of Errors.
The cast included Lenny Henry, Lucian Msamati and Claudie “Queen of Costume Drama” Blakley. They were wonderful, the set was fantastic, and the physical comedy fitted cleverly with the Bard’s original jokes. The Brussels audience laughed especially hard at the “I could find out countries in her” speech, which mentions Belgium (West End Whingers in their review of the play asked “Shakespeare of course invented everything. Was he the first to discover the intrinsic comic value in Belgium too?“. You got to love a country able to laugh at itself. Another great example is the movie In Bruges).
It’s quite a feeling to hear the London audience laugh while we were laughing as well, and imagine all the other spectators around the world doing it as well at the exact same time (hurrah for globalization!). There are hundreds of locations that offer NTV, and although nothing compares to actually being there, this sure comes close. Have you ever tried it?