Did you know we have an exciting new addition to Kingston’s cultural scene? The superb 200-seat theatre at Kingston Grammar School has just become a public venue for National Theatre Live broadcasts. As a lover of drama, it bothers me that I can’t go to the theatre as much as I’d like; sometimes you can’t quite justify the expense of a ticket at £50+ a pop, and London can feel like a bit of a schlep on a Thursday evening. That’s why National Theatre Live is such a great idea. Each production – whether it’s at the Donmar, the Old Vic, or the National itself – is filmed in front of a live audience and cameras are carefully positioned throughout the auditorium so that cinema audiences get the ‘best seat in the house’ every time, but for a fraction of the price.
The beauty of seeing National Theatre Live in the wonderful newly named Michael Frayn Theatre is that it really feels authentic, like a genuine theatre experience. Myself and a friend went to see the screening of Saint Joan by Bernard Shaw on Thursday 16th Feb. On arrival, your ticket is checked by KGS students, your ushers for the evening, who then show you to the stylish Hawkes Bar where you can grab a pre-performance drink (there’s an interval too for that all-important refreshment break). A tannoy announcement asks you to take your seats a few minutes before the production starts, just like the theatre, and once you’re in the magnificent auditorium, there’s a thrilling ambience that makes you feel as though you’re about to watch something special, especially as the lights dim.
Saint Joan did not disappoint. Gemma Arterton gives a spell-binding performance as the devout farm girl, whose passion and innocence work against her in the cold, male-orientated world she inhabits. It’s a story that particularly resonates in our current social and political climate where women have to stage major international marches in order to be heard.
Further good news is that NT Live Kingston has secured many more major productions over the next few months. I can’t wait to see Hedda Gabler directed by Tony Award-winning director Ivo van Hove and starring the brilliant Ruth Wilson on Thursday 9 March, and then there’s Tamsin Greig as ‘Malvolia’ in Twelfth Night on 6th April, and Daniel Radcliffe in Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead on 20th April. These are just some of the highlights.
One last note — later in the year, the theatre will be officially launched as The Michael Frayn Theatre after the renowned, award-winning playwright and author, who is also an alumnus of the school. Culture in Kingston is definitely on the up!
Tickets for screenings are available on the door or can be booked in advance on michaelfrayntheatre.com.
By Our Kingston Blogger, Lamees.