Saturday, April 07, 2012

She Stoops to Theatre: Oliver Goldsmith's She Stoops to Conquer Filmed Live at the National Theatre

If all plays  were filmed to this quality and sent out  to cinemas, I don't think I'd ever see a live production again! The tickets cost a fraction of what you normally pay for the privilege of being squashed in an overheated auditorium peering round the head of the woman in front with a bouffant hairdo. There was some slight middle-class braying behind me, but not as much as you'd get in a west-end theatre. It all added to the atmosphere. 

I'd initially spotted it on the Cineworld website, and it made sense that it was to be shown in Stevenage. Give people who couldn't make it to London a chance. But for me it was easy enough, as the train only takes half an hour from Kings Cross and my Freedom Pass makes the journey cheaper.  'Don't bother to book', I said to a friend, which was foolish because it was almost immediately  sold out. What luck to find after all that I could see it in Hackney. I took a bus from London Bridge

Although my seat was in the middle of the fourth row I felt, according to camera deployment, that I was enjoying an overview of the audience in the vast bowl of the Olivier theatre, the whole  stage visible from a mid point at times, at others I felt I was  onstage with the actors . When Katherine Kelly, as Kate Hardcastle,  winked or when Hastings made a humorous aside it was in close up, but when the whole cast sang  and dance on on the wide stage, the camera panned away to show that too. There were two or three blips in the sound, but otherwise it was bell-like.

I  did think it was a pity when Katherine Kelly left Coronation Street,  although her acting was head and shoulders above everyone else's in the soap , except  the young boy who plays Peter Barlow's son.  Her role had lacked a proper storyline for quite a while, so she did well to switch to the stage - and what a stage.  There were times when she didn't quite know what to do (stand still was the answer) but her voice and gestures were excellent. John Heffernan was good as a nimble-kneed Hastings and David Fynn was the most assured Tony Lumpkin I've ever seen.

The actress who earned most applause was Sophie  Thompson, excellent  as Mrs Harcastle, the country bumplin wife who longs for city lights and fashions. She put on a series of pretentious accents and was once comically hoisted  from an ambitiously low curtsy.

In the armchair comfort of Hackney PictureHouse I was one of a  700-cinemas audience in 22 countries. Or so I was told by a presenter who appeared in a short film before the start, that  included an interview with the costume designer. This and an interview with  director in the interval were bonuses you don't get in the theatre. It  was, to quote Mr Hardcastle,  a 'Liberty Hall' experience,  and one I hope to repeat.  

1 comment:

Joanna said...

Sheila - interesting to see a cinema goer's perspective on NT Live as I had been at the NT for the 2 previous showings - Travelling Light and The Comedy of Errors. Maybe next time I will go to the cinema instead.