by Byron Woods
We've got another one of those insanely
great—and totally last minute—performance
opportunities for you.
If you'd like to see a live performance of Slumdog Millionaire director Danny Boyle's controversial production of FRANKENSTEIN, at London's National Theatre on Thursday, March 17, you have two options.
Plan A: Fly to London and take your chances on a scalper's ducat or a last-minute cancellation. Price: ~$1,500—up.
Plan B: Drive 90 minutes to Southern Pines, where you can see the performance, broadcast live via HD satellite feed, at the historic Sunrise Theater. Price: $20 ($10 with a student ID). Plus gas fare.
We happened upon the National Theatre Live website by accident, while researching a different story altogether. When we did, we discovered that two venues in North Carolina have been broadcasting the renowned London company's full season this year in state-of-the-art HD projection. But since the other venue is a 50-seat classroom somewhere at UNC Wilmington, your best bet is probably going to be down 15-501 (or Highway 1 from Raleigh) in Moore County.
Critical reviews of the production have been, for the most part, incandescent. "What to say about", the Guardian's "summary judgment" column of collected reviews, begins:
If the critics' advice should ever be followed, and if you can get a ticket, then Frankenstein at the National is clearly the place to be. There was always going to be hype around any production that could promise Danny Boyle's return to the theatre, the presence of television's Benedict Cumberbatch and American television's Johnny Lee Miller, plus an original score from Underworld. (That's a three-way Trainspotting reunion, '90s fans.) What is never guaranteed is a good reaction from the reviewers. Let alone the kind of ecstasy that Frankenstein provoked.
For those who have yet to take in an HD satellite live performance, the viewing promises to be an experience different from—and possibly superior to—a live theater experience. By showtime, the theater and the production company should have scoped out optimum sight lines and viewing angles for each scene, with visual fields varying from the entire stage to extreme close-up. The HD technology produces an image several times crisper and clearer than 35mm film. "In some ways," notes Sunrise Theater administrator Patricia Wallace, "it's a more intimate experience than you'd have if you were actually at the National Theatre."
The Sunrise will be screening the last production of the National's 2010-2011 season, with Zoë Wanamaker starring in The Cherry Orchard on June 30. They've also committed to broadcast the National's 2011-2012 season this fall.
All seating is reserved. The live performance starts at 3 p.m. — to coincide with the show's 8 p.m. curtain time in London. The runtime for the production is 2.5 hours. With graphic scenes, the production is intended for viewers 15 years and older. For reservations, call the theater at 910 692 8501.