Monday, 5 November 2012

Theatre at the Pictures

Timon of Athens, National Theatre Live, Cinema City, Norwich. November 2012

Thank heavens for whoever had the wonderful idea of broadcasting London productions into cinemas around the country (and indeed around the world).

This is the only play from season of National Theatre Live that I've seen at the cinema - one play I'd seen at the National and the other I missed due to having the lurgy.  I'm glad that I went out on a cold, wet Thursday night for this production, which was in fact was the very last performance of the play's run.

I've established over the last year that I prefer my Shakespeare performed as at the Globe so I was a little concerned about this version as it was totally up-to-date and had a definite setting of 2011/2012, however the draw for me was Simon Russell Beale. Everything I've seen him in has been great!

The play is all about money and how fickle people are - when Timon appears rich and lavishes gifts on his friends and entertains extravagantly everyone loves him, as soon as they realise he is bankrupt they all desert him.  The second half is all about Timon's life as a destitute person, and what I saw as his descent into controlled madness.

This is very much a play of two halves, and I preferred the first, but the acting was incredible and all credit to the National Theatre and the actors for making me see that Shakespeare can work in an updated form in a traditional theatre.

This is one of the plays that Shakespeare wrote with another author and Nicholas Hytner, the director, did say in the interval film that they had to alter/add to some scenes just t make the play make sense. Not having read the original I think that they did a good job, from start to finish I could follow the story and no lines stood out as being 'modern' despite the updating. Several people in the audience were unsure of making some roles female (the steward for example) but for me that was the only way that the play could have stayed realistic with the modern setting. 

Seeing this at the cinema was ideal, the expense of a trip to London for this would have been okay but the convenience of trying something I was unsure of close to home was just right.

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