Films of theatre works on show

The creme de la creme of London's National Theatre will soon be coming to a screen near you.

The Esplanade will be screening four films of theatre productions staged at the National Theatre: Coriolanus, starring Tom Hiddleston in the title role; The Audience, with Helen Mirren (above right) reprising her Oscar-winning turn as Queen Elizabeth II; and two versions of Frankenstein featuring Benedict Cumberbatch and Jonny Lee Miller.

Tickets at $19 go on sale today, with discounts for the purchase of tickets to three or more shows. They will be shown at the Esplanade Theatre Studio on selected dates next month and in July and August.

Thefilms are screened under the umbrella of National Theatre Live, which aims to capture live performances from the stage and broadcast them in cinemas across the globe. The initiative began in June 2009 and since then, 1.5 million people in 500 venues worldwide have watched the broadcasts.

Each broadcast was filmed in front of a live audience in the theatre.

The Audience premiered in March last year. Mirren channels the Queen in this play by British playwright and screenwriter Peter Morgan, which imagines what might have occurred during a series of important and completely private meetings between the Queen and each of the 12 Prime Ministers of Britain in her 60-year rule. She received an Olivier award for her portrayal of the Queen in this show.

British heart-throb Hiddleston takes on the titular role of Shakespeare's Coriolanus, which opened in London last December at the Donmar Warehouse. This brutal tragedy of political manipulation and revenge features a legendary leader grappling with an increasingly unhappy populace - all this while, with an enemy at the gates.

Hiddleston has been described as "magnificent" by The Independent and "the ideal combination of emotional reserve and physical bravura" by the Observer in this critically acclaimed production which features plenty of action.

The screenings conclude with Frankenstein directed by Oscar-winner Danny Boyle of Slumdog Millionaire (2008), Trainspotting (1996) and London Olympics fame. The show premiered in 2011.

Sherlock's Cumberbatch and Elementary's Miller go head to head as they take on alternating roles as Victor Frankenstein and his monstrous creation. The familiar gothic tale also touches on themes of scientific ethics and responsibility, as well as the eternal tussle between good and evil.

Both Cumberbatch and Miller shared an Olivier award for their performances.

Ms Jobina Tan, head of theatre and dance at the Esplanade, says: "With actors such as Cumberbatch and Hiddleston who are hugely popular film and TV personalities today, we hope many who would not typically catch a theatre production would be enticed to come and catch these screenings. In watching these stars in a different light, we hope they discover how exciting and enriching theatre can be."

Book it


Where: Esplanade Theatre Studio
When: The Audience: June 29, 7.30pm, July 26, 3pm, Aug 2, 2.30pm, and Aug 3, 7.30pm; Coriolanus: June 28, 7.30pm, July 26, 7.30pm, and Aug 3, 3pm; Frankenstein (Cumberbatch as Creature): June 28, 3pm, and Aug 2, 7pm; Frankenstein (Jonny Lee Miller as Creature): June 29, 3pm, and Aug 10, 7.30pm
Admission: $19 from Sistic (call 6348-5555 or go to

This article was published on May 7 in The Straits Times.

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