June 30, 2010
Last night I went to see "London Assurance" at the National Theatre and it didn't involve a trans-Atlantic trek. It was just a short walk to NYU's Skirball Center, where the play was shown on a movie screen in HD.
The play itself is a bit of a chestnut: a comedy of manners and errors as the lordly city-set get mixed up with the earthy country-set over the matters of an arranged marriage and an land inheritance. It was written in the 1841 by Dion Boucicault, an Irish wunderkind who was all of 20 when this work debuted. But it does has some sturdy comical bones which have only been strengthened with a polish by UK playwright Richard Beane and sharp direction by the famed Nicholas Hytner. It also has a stunning cast of British thespians, including Simon Russell Beale and Fiona Shaw, who hijacks every scene she is in. Having a name like "Lady Gay Spanker" certainly helps.
NT Live is a program that started this year with a series of live broadcasts from the South Bank home of the National Theatre that are beamed out to audiences in countries around the world. The tickets to this theatrical feast were just $25 and well worth it. It's brilliant idea and has been such a success that their second season is already planned for next fall. First up is a new adaptation of Mary Shelley's "Frankstein" directed by Trainspotting/Slumdogging Danny Boyle.