National Theatre Live: Twelfth Night at Dundee Contemporary Arts

I’ve been loving the National Theatre Live’s recent run of broadcasts at DCA. From No Man’s Land starring Ian McKellen to Hedda Gabler starring Ruth Wilson, the live transitions have made the National Theatre’s work so much more accessible and affordable to people all around the globe.

Last week’s broadcast was Shakespeare’s timeless play Twelfth Night, starring the comedic actress Tamsin Greig. I’ve recently become a fan of Shakespeare’s comedies, after thoroughly enjoyed the Dundee Rep’s production of Much Ado About Nothing last year, so I couldn’t wait to see the Twelfth Night brought to life on stage.

The play begins with a ship wreck which separates twins Viola (Tamara Lawrance) and Sebastian (Daniel Ezra). Viola is washed up ashore but Sebastian is missing and presumed dead. Determined to survive on her own, Viola steps out to explore a new land and reconstruct her life in a way that will honour her beloved brother. What follows is a hilarious whirlwind of madness, passion, mistaken identity and unrequited love, taking places within two rich households nearby.

I was surprised by just how fresh and current the play felt – despite it being well over 400 years old. It just goes to show that the best writing, never really ages! This version, directed by Simon Godwin, also has its own modern twist with Tamsin Greig playing the character of Malvolio, the head servant in Olivia’s a household – a part that’s usually reserved for a man. This clever twist worked well and only highlighted how the themes of Shakespeare’s plays are just as relevant today, as they were back then. After all love is love, no matter what form it comes in. This superbly acted production was warm, funny and emotional all at once, and was an absolute pleasure to watch.

The National Theatre Live will be broadcasting more theatre events throughout the spring and summer including Obsession, starring Jude Law, Whose Afraid of Virginia Woolf, starring Imelda Staunton and JM Barrie’s boyhood classic, Peter Pan,

For more information about National Theatre Live productions coming to Dundee and to book tickets, please visit: www.dca.org.uk

*Disclaimer – I was provided with a ticket for this showing of the Twelfth Night in exchange for this fair and honest review.

 

National Theatre Live – Saint Joan at Dundee Contemporary Arts

A few weeks ago, I was lucky enough to see the National Theatre Live production of Saint Joan at Dundee Contemporary Arts (DCA). The production, starring Gemma Arterton, is an updated version of George Bernard Shaw’s classic 1920s play.

Set in France on a revolving boardroom filled with hedge fund managers, the play tells the story of Joan of Arc: daughter, farm girl, visionary, patriot, king-whisperer, soldier, leader, victor, icon, radical, witch, heretic, saint, martyr and woman.

The play opens with the shocking news that hens have stopped laying eggs, leading to a crash in the stock market. The hedge fund managers are understandably worried but then a local farm girl called Joan arrives, boasting about her ability to speak to dead Saints and Angels and tells the men that God is on her side. She asks them to let her take control of the army so that she can drive the English out of France. Of course, she’s immediately met with ridicule, but then she does something amazing – she asks the dead saints to help her get the hens laying eggs again. When it works – she’s suddenly someone to be reckoned with.

While Gemma Arterton’s performance is wonderful as the feminist farm girl turned visionary, the modern setting with all its technology and gadgets left me a little bit cold. Personally, I would have preferred a more faithful adaptation of this play, but I still enjoyed the opportunity to learn more about Joan and her amazing strength and conviction.

My next visit to the DCA will be to see the celebrated play Hedda Gabler, written by the Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen. Starring the amazing Ruth Wilson – it’s a National Theatre Live production, not to be missed!

For more information about National Theatre Live productions coming to Dundee and to book tickets, please visit: www.dca.org.uk

*Disclaimer – I was provided with a ticket for this showing of Saint Joan in exchange for this fair and honest review.

Review: Amadeus, National Theatre Live at DCA, Dundee

Having loved my first National Theatre Live experience, I was really looking forward to returning to Dundee Contemporary Arts (DCA) to watch the latest NT production Amadeus, last week. The stunning show, starring Lucian Msamati and Adam Gillen, tells the story of Salieri, a celebrated composer who is thriving in the beautiful city of Vienna. But when musical genius Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart comes to town, Salieri’s whole world is rocked to the core.

Envious of the attention that the young Mozart is receiving, Salieri gets to know the composer and is stunned by his extraordinary talent. Consumed by jealousy, Salieri starts to plot Mozart’s downfall, ensuring that he will never receive the recognition that he deserves during his short lifetime.

The cast, which included the wonderful Karla Crome as Mozart’s wife Constance, was absolutely magnificent and brought the whole piece to life. Written by the English playwright Peter Shaffer, Amadeus is filled with drama, suspense and outstanding music, provided by a live orchestra who were very much part of the production. The packed audience at the DCA, were all absolutely riveted and on the edge of their seats throughout.

For a second time, the magic of the National Theatre was absolutely transmitted through the screen, making it feel like you really were there! Being able to grab a drink from the lovely Jute Café Bar at half time, also really added to the whole theatre experience.

With more National Theatre Live events due to be screened soon, including the award winning plays Saint Joan and Hedda Gabler, I’m looking forward to returning to the DCA for my next dose of culture!

For more information about National Theatre Live productions coming to Dundee and to book tickets, please visit: www.dca.org.uk

*Disclaimer – I was provided with a ticket for this showing of Amadeus in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Review – No Man’s Land, National Theatre Live at DCA, Dundee

I have been desperate to see a National Theatre Live performance for years now, but it’s something I’ve never quite gotten round to it. The initiative, that broadcasts National Theatre productions live to cinema venues around the world, has been spreading theatre joy since 2009 and ensuring that those of who don’t live near a National Theatre, don’t have to miss out on their spectacular productions.

When I finally got a ticket to see Harold Pinter’s classic play No Man’s Land, which was being broadcast live from the Wyndham’s Theatre in London, I was so excited to see how it was all going to work. As I made my way into Dundee Contemporary Art’s (DCA) cinema I was struck by how much it felt like I was entering an actual theatre. With beautiful views of Wyndham’s Theatre on the screen and the sounds of the audience’s chatter filling the room – the DCA contained that amazing pre-performance buzz, which I’ve never experienced in a cinema before.   

When the performance began – with the theatre’s curtain going up, the DCA audience were exceptionally quiet, taking great care not to chat or rustle their popcorn – it was as if we too were worried about distracting the actors.

The play was every bit as spectacular as I dreamt it would be. Pinter’s No Man Land is as poetic as it is dark and deliciously funny. Starring Sir Ian McKellen as Spooner and Patrick Stewart as Hirst, the story begins when the two ageing writers return to Hirst’s stately home after meeting for the first time in a pub on Hampstead Heath. As the pair become increasingly drunk, their friendly but boastful banter changes into something more serious and when they are joined by two younger men, the evening takes a sinister turn.

The small cast, which also included Owen Teale and Damien Molony, were superb and had both the theatre and cinema audience laughing along and gasping in equal turns. When the performance came to an end, I couldn’t stop myself from clapping along – it just felt rude not to!

After the event we were treated to a live question and answer from the four strong cast along with the Director of the play, Sean Mathias, which gave both audiences fresh insight into Harold Pinter’s original play, 41 years on.

I left feeling richer for having seen my first National Theatre production and very much looking forward to seeing the next one live at the DCA.

National Theatre Live are broadcasting a number of theatre productions in 2017, including Saint Joan, Amadeus, Hedda Gabler and the Twelfth Night all of which will be shown at the DCA. For more information and to book tickets, visit: www.dca.org.uk

*Disclaimer – I was provided with a ticket for this showing of No Man’s Land in exchange for a fair and honest review.