The Magistrate National Theatre Production At The Cinema

Jan Leeming

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Computers and the internet are amazing things. One of my concerns with putting together this site was that it could remain current, yet with all my travelling I've often much to say, but little time to say it. Years ago when reading the news it would take me days on end to reply to the kind letters people sent. Now, with the magic of the modern age, I can keep you up to date with what I'm doing and other events in my life.

THE MAGISTRATE - National Theatre production at the Cinema

Date: 18th January 2013


What a wonderful experience – seeing a National Theatre production live beamed onto a Cinema screen. Having never experienced one of these relatively new Theatre/Cinema projects I wasn’t sure what to expect and that sitting in a cinema seat would detract from the magic of the theatre. Far from it – we were sitting in comfortable, well raked seats with superb sound. I got so drawn into the production that I was actually applauding at the end of the two acts – one of the few to do so but hey-ho.

Also, in the interval there was time to visit the loo and queue for an ice-cream – no alcohol on sale. In London, for a woman it is usually a choice between the loo or a drink as most of the old London theatres have woefully inadequate facilities in the loo and bar department. I wonder how they managed in days gone by when they were wearing layers of skirts etc. and needed to pay a call of nature.

The Production.

It was absolutely astounding. They had arranged the four scenes like Pop Ups coming from beneath the stage. To cover the changes there was an excellent ‘chorus’ which I think was definitely a modern addition to Pinero’s play and a few bits of the dialogue had been updated to reflect modern times.

John Lithgow was superb and even more so when you realise that he is an American who managed an upper class English accent superbly (far better than many an English actor doing American). There was a filmed short introduction by John – a sort of behind the scenes look at the play in rehearsal and that was very interesting. His role involved slapstick, miming, superb timing and a song at the end. He really is a fantastic all rounder. In the old days of the long dead programme ‘Pebble Mill at One’ he is the kind of guest we’d regularly have had on the programme. Oh Happy Days full of wonderful memories of the most fascinating guests.

Nancy Carroll also was excellent as were the whole cast with, for me, one exception with which my friend agreed. To my way of thinking Joshua McGuire was not right for the part. He was too old to be convincing as a 19 year old playing a 14 year old and he reduced the part to slapstick on too many occasions. Yes there is a degree of slapstick in Pinero’s play but I simply wasn’t convinced by Mr. McGuire.

That said, it was a hugely enjoyable evening out – Wonderful theatre brought to us, sitting in comfort and paying a fraction of the usual exorbitant West End price. There are several more of these evenings planned locally and I shall be beating a path to the door of the Cinema.

Having been a thespian, I really do miss trips to the theatre but living down in Kent with a two hour journey into London and the cost of ticket and a decent seat I don’t often go any more. When I lived in Bucks I used to wonder at the number of people who either exited close to the end of a production or left their seats as soon as the curtain call began. Now I know why – I too have to do that or there’s a danger of missing the last train home. I gave up driving into London 2 years ago – the traffic is appalling and the cost of parking prohibitive.

So, if you like theatre and a production comes to a cinema near you, do give it a go. It was amazing to think that what we saw last night was being beamed around to cinemas all over the world. Perhaps this is the future of theatre, ballet and opera. Ticket prices, especially for ballet and opera, are becoming prohibitive but this new way of experiencing a production is certainly a very innovative way into the future. It also opens up the experience to a much wider audience.

Of course you don't end up with a glossy souvenir programme but that's a blessing in disguise for me.  Being an inveterate collector of any kind of memorabilia, I had kept programmes from every single theatrical performance I'd attended since my first magical visit to the theatre at the age of 11 - 'The King and I' at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane.  A few years ago I didn't know what on earth to do with the collection so donated it to the Royal Theatrical Fund with the exception of my little yellow programmes from The Old Vic when it was purely a theatre for staging Shakespeare.  The programmes started at a cost of 4d and went up to the ridiculous price of 6d!!!!!!!!  How much do they cost today especially if you buy the souvenir brochure.

Happy Cinema/Theatre going. Jan

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