More stage hits for free screening

Benedict Cumberbatch (left) and Jonny Lee Miller co-star in the National Theatre’s Frankenstein, which is to be made available for free streaming from April 30. Picture by Clare Nicholson.


FANS of fine British theatre have a feast on offer with free online streaming being permitted for the widely acclaimed National Theatre Live filmed stage productions of Twelfth Night and Frankenstein, both of which will stream at no cost for a week.

These streamings form part of the excellent National Theatre At Home initiative, introduced a few weeks ago to delight theatre fans around the world who aren’t able to visit National Theatre Live venues or cinemas screening films of stage productions.

Some of the best British theatre can be enjoyed from the comfort of your living room, via YouTube, at no cost. Each Thursday, a previously recorded stage work is premiered at 7pm British time (8pm South African time). That production is then made available for free streaming at any time that suits the viewer, until the following Thursday.

This is the link for the free screenings:

Currently available for free streaming, and now in the last day of its National Theatre At Home run, is Treasure Island. Tonight (Thursday, April 23), Twelfth Night will be made available for free screening, to be replaced by Frankenstein, streaming at no cost for a week, from 8pm (SA time) on May 1.

Treasure Island, which premiered last Thursday and can still be viewed before Twelfth Night premieres tonight, has been described as a daring, witty, imaginative and spectacular staging of the Robert Louis Stevenson novel, adapted for the stage by Bryony Lavery.

A scene from the National Theatre’s Treasure Island.

Suitable for anyone aged 10 or older, this production of Stevenson’s story of murder, money and mutiny starts with a dark, stormy night.

The stars are out. Jim, the inn-keeper’s granddaughter, opens the door to a terrifying stranger. At the old sailor’s feet sits a huge sea-chest, full of secrets. Jim invites him in – and a dangerous voyage begins.

Filmed live on-stage by National Theatre Live, the play has Olivier Award-winner Patsy Ferran (Summer and Smoke) as Jim and Arthur Darvill (Doctor WhoBroadchurch) as Long John Silver.

Twelfth Night, to be made available from April 23 to 30, stars Tamsin Greig as Malvolia in what is a new twist on Shakespeare’s classic comedy of mistaken identity.

A ship is wrecked on the rocks. Viola is washed ashore but her twin brother Sebastian is lost. Determined to survive on her own, she steps out to explore a new land. So begins a whirlwind of mistaken identity and unrequited love.

The nearby households of Olivia and Orsino are overrun with passion. Even Olivia’s upright housekeeper Malvolia is swept up in the madness. Where music is the food of love, and nobody is quite what they seem, anything proves possible.

Tamsin Greig in Twelfth Night.

Simon Godwein directs this joyous production which has a cast including Daniel Rigby, Tamara Lawrence, Doon Mackichan and Daniel Ezra.

Good news about the Frankenstein production, in which Benedict Cumberbatch and Jonny Lee Miller alternated in the roles of Dr Frankenstein and his creation, is that National Theatre At Home is offering a double treat.

Viewers can watch Cumberbatch as the creature and Miller as Victor Frankenstein from Thursday, April 30, at 8pm (SA time), until May 7; then watch Frankenstein with Miller as the creature and Cumberbatch as Victor Frankenstein, from Friday, May 1, at 8pm (SA time), until May 8.

Filmed live in 2011 from the stage of the National Theatre in London, this thrilling, sold-out production became an international sensation, experienced by more than 800 000 people in cinemas around the world.

The production was directed by Academy Award-winner Danny Boyle (Trainspotting, Slumdog Millionaire).

Childlike in his innocence but grotesque in form, Frankenstein’s bewildered creature is cast out into a hostile universe by his horror-struck maker. Meeting with cruelty wherever he goes, the increasingly desperate and vengeful Creature determines to track down his creator and strike a terrifying deal.

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