The Watchers

The Watchers

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Curtain Up, Light The Lights...

I had a very interesting cinematic experience last week.

For the first time, I was able to see a recorded showing of a play at my local cinema.

This isn't something new. They've previously shown various productions from The New York Metropolitan Opera, the Royal Opera House, the National Theatre and Shakespeare's Globe. There have been a few things that I have wanted to see- notably  the National Theatre's production of Frankenstein with Jonny Lee Miller  and Benedict Cumberbatch- but haven't been able to go.

So when I saw a one-off showing of Stephen Sondheim's Company with the New York Philharmonic Orchestra, I couldn't resist.

This isn't going to be a review of the show- which starred Neil Patrick Harris, Stephen Colbert, Jon Cryer, Martha Plimpton, Christina Hendricks and Patti LuPone and was absolutely brilliant- but more my thoughts on the whole experience.

Watching a recorded play is odd- its a cross between film and theatre. When you see a play at a theatre, you have a fixed point of view and can only see things from that view. With a recording of a play, it's directed and edited in such a way that you get to see close-ups, wide-shots and all the usual tricks of cinema which means you get to see more. One thing that was interesting was a full twenty-minute intermission after the first act. Plenty of time to goi and stretch the legs, get a drink, go to the loo- a really good idea to save you sitting still for two and a half hours. The other advantage to seeing a recording oif a play is that you can get to see things that you would otherwise miss. For example, this production of Company only had four performances in New York at the end of last year. There's no way I would have been able to see this otherwise. 

But the one thing that was missing in the cinema showing is that inexplicable ambience and energy that you get in a theatre when you watch a show. Even so, the energy and the emotion of the piece came through in spades.

Based on this experience though, I would happily see another recording of a play, ballet or opera.

So that was my experience. Have you seen a recording of a play? If so, what did you see and did you enjoy it? Would you recommend it as an experience or stay well clear? Let me know in the comments below.


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