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Theatre on Screen

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by Sandra Lawson (subscribe)
To paraphrase Dorothy: 'There is no place like London.' I hope I can convince you of that here. Also check out my blog at and my theatre reviews at
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Just Like Going to the Theatre, But Cheaper and Bigger
We all know that some theatre seats are horrendously expensive unless you sit up in the 'gods' or in the back row of the circle. Do you really want to be at such a distance from the stage that you can't see the actors' facial expressions, or even have such poor sightlines that you can't even see everything that is happening on the other side of the proscenium arch? As a reviewer I saw a play last year where my press seat was in the penultimate row of the stalls; after complaining during the interval I was moved closer to the front of the auditorium and actually felt that I was engaged in a production full of live people, rather than just watching doll sized performers.

As Tony Blair may have said, there is a third way to see a play, and here are a few ideas to start you off.

Shakespeare's Globe has always been a popular location, both for Londoners and visitors. The only reservation is that our weather isn't always kind to outdoor playgoers. Last summer I saw productions where I actually got sunburnt, and where I needed warm clothing and waterproofs. Globe on Screen is the solution if you missed some of last year's acclaimed productions such as Henry V, Twelfth Night and The Taming of the Shrew. These cinematic experiences are not merely confined to the UK, but are available in other countries too and run throughout most of June, July, August and September..

The National Theatre is one of the pioneers of live theatre with National Theatre Live reaching out to the silver screen, and the tradition continues with the current production of Othello on 26 September.

Another delight to look forward to will be Kenneth Branagh as Macbeth, in the play of the same name, currently scheduled for 20 July.. And it is perfectly fine to use the proper title of Shakespeare's tragedy. Unlike the thespians in Blackadder there is no need to go to huge lengths to avoid superstitious calamities.

Theatre on Screen
Kenneth Branagh as Macbeth (Image courtesy of the national theatre website)

NT Live will also be responsible for The Gielgud's The Audience in which Helen Mirren portrays the Queen at her regular weekly audience with the Prime Minister of the day. So far the only cinema audience announced is on 13 June.

And to offer you something to look forward to for later in the year, the RSC has just announced a live screening of David Tennant's Richard II on 13 November.

Cinema on Screen
David Tennant as Richard II (Image courtesy of

These will be genuine live performances, with cameras located in the auditoria, and not productions filmed in studios. What more could you ask than to watch some of our superb classically trained actors at a fraction of the price of theatre tickets?

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Why? To see acclaimed actors performing on stage in the cinema
When: Dates and times vary
Where: See websites for details
Cost: Varies`
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