mon 22/07/2024

Theatre Lockdown Special 3: Mary Shelley twice over, Europe writ large, and one day more for a mega-musical | reviews, news & interviews

Theatre Lockdown Special 3: Mary Shelley twice over, Europe writ large, and one day more for a mega-musical

Theatre Lockdown Special 3: Mary Shelley twice over, Europe writ large, and one day more for a mega-musical

Sonnets galore also form part of another busy week amidst bizarre times

Aux armes: 'Les Mis' lives forever onMatt Murphy

Time is moving in mysterious ways at the moment. It's been possible over the last month or so to mark out the beginning of each week with the arrival online of a different production streaming from the Hampstead Theatre archives.

The National, meanwhile, does its change-over of offerings on a Thursday (Frankenstein, see below, begins tonight), while the RSC and Shakespeare's Globe have enough material between them to satisfy the most ardent Shakespearean and newbies to the Bard alike. What's fun is when these stalwarts are joined by more unpredictable offerings, several of which are itemised below. We may not be able to roam far from home, but there remain no restraints, thank heavens, on the imagination.  

Benedict Cumberbatch as the Monster in 'Frankenstein'Frankenstein, National Theatre at Home

The National’s 2011 production of Frankenstein remains one of the benchmark theatre productions of recent times, not least due to the return to his theatrical roots of the Oscar-winning director Danny Boyle (Slumdog Millionaire). But a greater reason for the returns queues at the time was the casting of Benedict Cumberbatch and Jonny Lee Miller who swapped roles as Frankenstein and The Creature throughout the run, thereby encouraging people to see the play twice. (Pictured above: Cumberbatch as the Monster, photo c. Catherine Ashmore)

Now you can do just from the comfort of your couch, starting April 30 on the National Theatre At Home channel: which actor was better in which role?  Watch Nick dear's adaptation of the Mary Shelley novel both ways round and join the debate for yourself.

Re: Creating EuropeManchester International Festival, YouTube

Ivo van Hove is everywhere these days -- or at least was up until lockdown: on Broadway with his maverick new West Side Story, in Paris and then the Barbican with Isabelle Huppert in The Glass Menagerie, and headed back to London with a new stage version of The Shining. On Friday, the ever-adventuresome Belgian director will be represented with a streamed recording of Re: Creating Europe, the script-in-hand piece that he devised for last summer’s Manchester International Festival and available on their YouTube channel at 7 30 pm. 

Conjoining actors from van Hove’s Internationaal Theater Amsterdam with top-rank local talent including Juliet Stevenson and Adjoa Andoh, the show promises to give meaty, multi-lingual voice to an ongoing debate that has been sidelined though not silenced by Covid-19.

Les Miserables – The Staged Concert

'Les Mis' in concertThere are copious versions of the musical of Les Miserables available for viewing, including, of course, the 2012 film with Hugh Jackman. But its ongoing theatrical roots are there to be savoured in Les Miserables – The Staged Concert,  the Cameron Mackintosh production available for purchase on digital download as a fundraiser for multiple charities. Recorded across two performances at the end of the run, this Les Mis captures for posterity the starry version of the time-honoured title that played for 16 weeks in the West End last year: sing along, if you wish, to Alfie Boe, Michael Ball, Matt Lucas, Carrie Hope Fletcher and more, while feasting on a new (and free) featurette, Bringing it Home, in support of the NHS. (Picture above, 'Les Mis' ensemble c. Michael Le Poer Trench

The Sonnet Project, Jermyn Street Theatre

These have been tough times for the tiny but ever-enterprising Jermyn Street Theatre, which this year had already offered up Beckett and Shakespeare when the 70-seat basement theatre was flooded April 8. That, coupled with a 95 percent loss of income due to the ongoing shutdown, has made for especially difficult circumstances that have led to The Sonnet Project, whereby Shakespeare's 154 sonnets will be read at a rate of one daily to raise funds. The sequence encompasses multiple languages, British Sign Language included, and an array of readers that ranges from graduating drama students to Hamilton's Jamael Westman, Dames Penelope Keith and Wilton, and Olivia Colman. (David Suchet performed Sonnet 34 on Shakespeare's birthday.) Some participants chose their sonnet and others had the sonnet allocated to them. In the end, it's the words themselves that matter, alongside getting this venue back on its feet. 

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