Thursday, 14 May 2015

NTLive "Man and Superman"

By doing a Twitter search on #NTLive it is clear that in some parts of North America this was a very good performance indeed. Sadly at the Scotiabank Theatre in Vancouver tonight we did not get to see much of it. A few minutes of the first scene and then about twenty minutes of the last act, and the curtain calls. Then we sat in the pitch dark, until finally someone got up and went to find a member of staff. The lights came on, but no-one from the theatre said anything. Two members of the audience said that we could get refunds at the box office. The line up actually blocked the escalators: fortunately people behind us saw what was happening and formed the queue on the stairs.

Eventually we were given replacement tickets for the Encore performance, which is actually a Saturday matinee next month. We could have had the equivalent value in vouchers for regular film shows if we had preferred.

As I said the last time I reviewed an NT Live show, we were warned not to expect perfection. The cinema staff were clearly overwhelmed, and not in control of the broadcast. Hopefully NT Live will pull their socks up and try to actually run the complete show they advertise in all time zones. I wonder how long they will keep the audience coming back if they get this kind of treatment again.

UPDATE June 13

It is not often, these days, that I duck into a cinema on a warm, sunny afternoon. But I did that today after a very early lunch to secure our seats for the encore performance of Man and Superman. And the NTLive broadcast was flawless. It is a very talky play - and everyone is expected to speak very quickly, presumably to cut back on the running time. The sequence in the middle, when the protagonists become Don Juan and his circle arguing in hell with the devil was left in (most productions cut it to save time) and it worked very well indeed. What did not work so well was shifting a bit of very early twentieth century social realism to the present day, while leaving most of the text unaltered, because most of the social issues are no longer relevant. No-one seriously expects a man to ask for his daughter's hand before he asks the girl herself. Unmarried sex and motherhood is commonplace, and so on. I also know no-one who undoes the cuff buttons on his jacket to flip up the cuff like on a shirt. Or is that a thing in London now? Not just a great performance by Fiennes but a good supporting cast too. Not that there is much point in me reporting any of this here, now unless NTLive does more reruns in the future. I hope that they do, because it does justify a wider audience.

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