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Stage on screen

National Theatre Live next best thing to being in London

The Cherry Orchard

National Theatre Live

No more performances

A well-kept secret is the National Theatre Live series and, really, its the next best thing to being in London. A select number of plays, performed on one of the National Theatres three stagesthe Oliver, Lyttleton and Cottesloeare filmed in front of a live audience and then broadcast in movie houses from Europe to Africa, Canada to New Zealand and Australia. Typically, the shows are presented one night only in each city and, in the Lower Mainland, there are about five venues including Scotiabank Theatre.

These filmed stage plays make you want to hop on a plane and fly to Jolly Olde. Back in March there was Frankenstein, directed by Danny Boyle with Benedict Cumberbatch and Jonny Lee Miller. For the first time, the National presented two separate performances with Cumberbatch and Miller alternating in the role of Victor Frankenstein and the Creature. The staging, by Mark Tildesley, was breathtaking.

Last week, National Theatre Live presented Anton Chekhovs The Cherry Orchard with Howard Davies directing the remarkable Zoe Wanamaker as Ranyevskaya in this new Andrew Upton adaptation. Wonderfully fresh, funny and deeply felt. One of the finest ensembles I have ever seen at the National, is how the Daily Telegraph described the production.

For information about the upcoming season, go to and follow the links to email sign up. Weeks in advance of the Vancouver date you receive notification and then you can check for the nearest venue. If you want, you can buy your tickets (about $22) online and avoid the lineups. Its all very civilized and almost as good as taking a cab across the historic Thames from Covent Garden and being live in the audience at the National Theatre.