This Saturday I had two very different theatre experiences, and both involving cinema. I love the fact that one can now sit in a theatre, or a cinema, and feel you have been to both…….at the same time.
Let me explain.
Doris & Wanda, knowing I had post NYC blues, invited me to go and see the National Theatre’s live broadcast of “London Assurance”. We had previously immersed ourselves in the same kind of presentation a few months earlier. Back then we saw “The Habit Of Art” by Alan Bennett, and we loved it.
It is basically a filmed performance of a play, simulcast throughout the world (I doubt the simulcast aspect after checking out the website). It is a great opportunity to see some wonderful productions with fantastic perfomances, all first rate.
London Assurance didn’t disappoint. A play written way back in 1841 by Dion Boucicault, a prolific playwrite of his time. I guess the equivalent of Alan Akybourn today?
It is an old fashioned comedy, and director Nicholas Hyntner has given us a very entertaining production, full of over the top performances from a brilliant cast. Standing out in particular was Simon Russell Beale, playing an aging society fop full of airs and graces, not to mention a healthy libido! It is a masterful performance, just his standing pose alone is hysterical. I love these kind of performances, nothing but pure delight. Not to shabby alongside him was the wonderful Fiona Shaw, as Lady Gay Spanker (the name alone makes you laugh), full of energy and horsy guffaws. She too just has to do simple things, like lounging on the sofa, and you were guffawing along with her. Richard Briars as her aging senile husband was a delight as well. All the cast were fabulous and each had their moments to shine.
It really does feel like you have been to the theatre, but with the best seats in the house. At $25 it’s a steal. Wanda has told me that the Opera presentations are well worth checking out too. I will make sure I do.
Simon Russell Beale & Fiona Shaw
Another dear friend of mine, Gary, invited me to see a special screening of Alfred Hitchcock’s classic thriller Psycho. Gary is a cinephile and had secured seats because he had witten the program notes on the classic film. The theatrical twist this time was that the film’s magnificent score was to be played by a live orchestra at the Regent theatre. Bernard Herrmann’s score is arguably one of the most famous in cinema history. Boy does it sound good live! At first you notice the orchestra playing beneath the cinema screen, but eventually, to the merit of Mr Hitchcock, the film itself grabs hold and you find yourself immersed in the creepy story flickering above. Of course the screeching strings that accompany the infamous shower scene were a highlight. In the corner of your eye you could see the bows of the orchestra strings thrusting away, whilst on screen the kitchen knife stabs away at poor unfortunate Janet Leigh. I haven’t seen Psycho in years, and never at a cinema or theatre. It holds up as a true classic, even with it’s silly ending and long winded explanation of the sad Norman Bate’s psychotic state. And speaking of Norman Bates, I think Anthony Perkin’s is wonderful in this role. It is a great film, and with the live orchestra playing alongside, it was a great experience.
So I saw a play in a cinema, and a film in a theatre. Either way I was greatly entertained. Entertainment comes in all shapes it seems.
I look forward to being entertained again soon.