It was the first time I had seen a stage play on `the big screen’ and it took a little time to work out what I was watching. Then my brain `switched to theatre mode’ and accepted there were no major changes in actors, scenery, costumes etc.
National Theatre Live is an initiative by the National Theatre to broadcast live performances onto cinema screens around the world. While A View from the Bridge is the first I have seen many more have been made and are to be shown. Upcoming productions include The Hard Problem, Man and Superman, Everyman and Hamlet.
Based on Arthur Miller’s tragic masterpiece, A View from the Bridge tells of Brooklyn longshoreman Eddie Carbone who welcomes his wife’s Sicilian cousins, illegal immigrants, to the land of freedom. But when one of them falls for his beautiful niece, they discover that freedom comes at a price. Eddie’s jealous mistrust exposes a deep, unspeakable secret – one that drives him to commit the ultimate betrayal.
The production currently being shown comes from the Young Vic and was nominated for seven Olivier Awards including Mark Strong for best actor, Phoebe Fox for best actress in a supporting role and Ivo van Hove for Best Director. The play was also nominated for Best Revival.
It’s easy to see why Strong was nominated, his performance as Eddie is outstanding. My companion, who saw the play performed in New York several years ago, also thought it an excellent performance. He noted there were quite a few differences between the New York and London productions, with the scenery being a major one. While the set for the London production was very basic and didn’t change during the play, the New York set was more naturalistic. The New York production’s finale was also more overtly `violent’ than the surreal, albeit dramatically compelling, close of the London production.
We both agreed the great advantage of watching a play on the `big screen’ was the chance to clearly see the actors’ facial expressions. However at times this also caused some frustration – for example when two characters were talking and we only saw one of the actors on the screen. But then we theorised if you are at the theatre and two actors are at different locations on the stage then you can only see one! The energy created by watching a `live play’ with an audience was also missing although there were still quite a few `oohs and aahs’ at appropriate places during the screening.
The great advantage of this production, and all others produced by National Theatre Live, is the chance to see top class theatrical performances from the world’s best actors that you would never get the chance to see unless you were in London at the right time.
A View from the Bridge screens from May 9 and 10 at selected theatres around Australia with encore screenings until the following weekend.
- movies, plays
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