It probably helped that we “knew” the theatre from our various visits over recent years, but the adjustment to viewing from a cinema was much more straightforward than I’d imagined. In the theatre, we tend to try to sit fairly close to the stage anyway, but the cinema ensured a perfect “seat” throughout and had the added advantage of being able to achieve “close-ups” of the actors at the key moments. We’ll certainly be back for more live broadcasts in the future.
It wasn’t quite like being in the audience in Stratford, but it was definitely the next best thing… and we walked to the cinema and bussed home afterwards (so incredibly convenient and cheap compared with the cost of overnight accommodation and travel costs).
One of the key reasons for wanting to see the play was that it featured our friend Alex Hassell as Henry (yes, I know from the reviews that it seems that EVERYONE wants to be Alex’s friend – we claim his friendship having met him – and Emma - a number of times through Felix and Hannah!)(Ursa absolutely adores him!!). Well, we might be a little biased, but we were HUGELY impressed. I thought he was exactly how Henry should be (what do I know?) – growing through the play from a naïve, hesitant young king to an assured, sensitive and resolute leader. Not the jingoistic warrior we’ve all seen from Laurence Olivier in the 1944 film (partly funded by the government at the end of WW2 and with Churchill underlining the need for it to be a morale-boosting opportunity).
I’ve just checked some of the newspaper reviews… 'Alex Hassell bears himself with hypnotic self-possession. It's career-making stuff' (Daily Telegraph); 'Alex Hassell exactly catches the conscience of the king’ (Guardian); 'Mr Hassell demands to be considered as one of our top-league actors' (Daily Mail)… you get the general idea!
As you would expect from the RSC, the entire cast is first-rate (Oliver Ford Davies made a very good Chorus). Although her part as Katherine is relatively small, Moira and I were very impressed by Jennifer Kirby’s performance.
A really excellent evening!
PS: the cinema was virtually full to capacity (they’d sold all the tickets) and, despite there being a fair amount of popcorn evident(!), it proved to be captivated audience (ie. well behaved!). I did, however, find the smell of the hot food carried in by a handful of people somewhat off-putting!! Oh dear, I’m such a grumpy old man!
PPS: It felt strange at the end, NOT to join in with the applause from the theatre audience!