The Magistrate, National Theatre Live (Encore), Cinema City, Norwich. January 2013.Thank heavens for the continuation of the National Theatre Live programme. I wasn't sure if I wanted to see this at all and so didn't bother getting tickets in London. Then the reviews and the bloggers started talking about it and I was kicking myself.
The actual 'Live' broadcast sold out, and in fact took place on a day when Norwich was blanketed in ice and I'd incapacitated myself by slipping over so I was very lucky that the daytime Encore fell on a day off.
The cinema was packed and thankfully for a comedy the audience was lively and so it was much more like being at the cinema than other broadcasts have been.
The Magistrate is a late Victorian farce. A widow has remarried but lied about her age in a fit of vanity. This has also meant that she has re-aged her son too, everyone thinks he is a forward 14 year old when he is actually 19. The family set up is already funny but when a figure from the past threatens to reveal the deception the comedy really kicks off.
I enjoyed the play, all of the actors were very,very good. They all managed to keep the balance between straight acting and comedy so this felt like a cohesive play rather than a pantomime, but all had excellent timing and the audience couldn't help but laugh along with the characters' predicaments.
Unlike some reviewers I did like the addition of the songs during the (clever) scene changes. For me the costumes, dancing and words made me think of Gilbert and Sullivan and added to the Victorian setting.
However I am still glad that I didn't rush for tickets in London - it was a fun afternoon but nothing that special.