Sunday, February 14, 2010

NT Live: Nation

NT Live: Nation
Thursday, February 11, 2010 at 7:00 PM
Rialto Cinemas Elmwood

The National Theatre in London has movie house screenings of their plays now, along the lines of the Met's Live in HD broadcasts. However, this was not a live broadcast but a re-broadcast of a live performance. Going in, I knew nothing about Nation or the Terry Pratchett novel on which it is based. As it was, I could not make sense of this story about shipwrecked Victorians clashing with Polynesian natives. This is the National Theatre's family show, & it looks like a politically incorrect version of the Lion King. When I wasn't offended by the show's inexplicable presentation of race, I was simply embarrassed. The 2nd half opens with the cast dancing the hula while singing happy birthday to a puppet.

I can at least say that the filming was well executed. This can't have been an easy show to film live, as it is a very complicated production, with a rotating stage, underwater effects & video projections. & I was totally convinced by Emily Taaffe as Daphne, a Victorian teenager gone native. At the beginning of our screening, there was a technical glitch with the projection, & we found ourselves looking at the video player interface for a minute while the program was re-cued. There were also occasional audio drop-outs.

The next broadcast is Alan Bennett's The Habit of Art, which features Benjamin Britten & W.H. Auden as 2 of its characters. Obviously a different kind of show.


Gavin Plumley said...

I will be highly intrigued to hear what you think of THE HABIT OF ART, which I saw in the theatre and found deeply troubling.

John Marcher said...

I would be very interested in seeing this with you if arrangements can be made.

Axel Feldheim said...

Frankly, I found the production of Nation to be troubling, though probably not for any reasons intended by the creative team. I'm not particularly enthusiastic about doing another NT Live event, though perhaps someone can sweeten the deal as the time approaches in April.