Cinemas in Vienna jumped on the theatre bandwagon only very recently, so this was the second live broadcast (after the RSC’s Richard II) we had the opportunity to see and the first where I had seen the play live before. I am not going to wax on about the play itself – I have already done that here – but on the cinema screening.
Of course there is a huge difference in being in the actual theatre and seeing a broadcast, but it’s really the next best thing and gives a lot of people who otherwise wouldn’t have the chance to see the play access to great productions.
It is also a great way to discover new things about a play you have already seen. You never catch everything and there were a lot of plays I would have liked the chance to revisit and dissect more. In this production for example, I had missed the moment Volumnia finally realised she just practically killed her son. I think I was checking if there were already swords being sharpened or tempers rising stage left right then.
On the other hand, some things are hard to be picked up by the cameras, especially in such a small theatre as the Donmar. When one of Aufidius’ men (Mark Stanley) was stealthily creeping up behind Coriolanus, I had one eye on Coriolanus and Aufidius and one eye on him. In the broadcast, he popped into the frame rather suddenly when he was already right behind Coriolanus which caused some in the audience to laugh.
Technically, the broadcast was really well done. There were a few minor sound glitches in the beginning and two tiny camera mishaps, but none of those lasted more than half a second and there were no issues for the rest of the play.
The interview with Josie Rourke during intermission was dispensable even though she managed to gracefully make the most out of being asked stupid questions. I would have been more interested in the production process than in why people chose to sleep in front of the theatre hoping for day tickets. Rourke is not only the director of the play but also artistic director of the Donmar, for crying out loud.
The really embarrassing part was the sexiest man alive question (if you can call that a question at all). Not only did Emma Freud put herself in the same league as the two girls jumping up and down yelling ‘oh my God!’ in the loo in our cinema, it was disrespectful and insulting to both the director and the actor to insinuate the play’s lead might have not been cast on merit but for looks and fanbase.
I get extremely ticked off whenever someone suggests a woman might have gotten a job on her looks (or worse), but if we are equally as stupid in judging men, we have absolutely no leg to stand on. If I choose looking at that comment on a lighter note than the above, it was fangirling which is still unprofessional and irksome.
I suspect there were a lot of theatre newbies in the cinemas, for some of them it was probably even the first time they were confronted with Shakespeare. It would be interesting to know how many of those were bitten by the theatre bug. I also hope that the plays are going to be released on DVD/BluRay/VoD at some point, so even more have access to them. Until then, we’ll just keep buying tickets for the screenings as soon as they are announced. Just keep them coming NTL and RSC!