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National Theatre Live: 100 Plays in Cinemas – 26-50


We’re following on with our NT Live history through to our 50th show, as the initiative began to expand and reach even more audiences…

Screenings 26 to 50

26. Othello – 26 September 2013 (Olivier Theatre)

By William Shakespeare. Directed by Nicholas Hytner.

‘Then you must speak, of one that loved not wisely but too well’.

An early-stage performance from Bridgerton‘s Jonathan Bailey as Cassio! Dressed in modern military wear, the company included Adrian Lester as Othello and Rory Kinnear as Iago.

Photo by Johan Persson

27. Coriolanus – 30 January 2014 (Donmar Warehouse)

By William Shakespeare. Directed by Josie Rourke.

‘You common cry of curs!’

Tom Hiddleston took the role of Caius Marcius Coriolanus in this lesser-performed Shakespeare play, filled with politics  – and lots of blood. Also featured Mark Gatiss as Menenius in his first role for NT Live.

Coriolanus, with David Oyelowo in the leading role, comes to the National Theatre this Autumn.

Photo by Johan Persson

Two life-sized puppets of horses, being made to rear up on their hind legs by their teams of three puppet handlers for each horse.

28. War Horse – 27 February 2014 (New London Theatre aka Gillian Lynne)

By Nick Stafford, based on the novel by Michael Morpurgo. Directed by Marianne Elliott and Tom Morris.

The play had premiered at the National Theatre in 2007 and has since gone on to tour across the globe, with its latest tour in the UK.

At the heart of the show are astonishing life-sized puppets by South Africa’s Handspring Puppet Company who bring breathing, galloping, charging horses to thrilling life on stage.

Photo by Brinkhoff Mögenburg

A production image of Simon Russell Beale as King Lear in the National Theatre production in 2014

29. King Lear – 1 May 2014 (Olivier Theatre)

By William Shakespeare. Directed by Sam Mendes.

More Lear, More Simon. Simon Russell Beale played the title role in the second King Lear production for NT Live, this time directed by Academy Award-winner Sam Mendes.

Anna Maxwell Martin and Kate Fleetwood were greedy daughters Regan and Goneril, Olivia Vinall was youngest daughter Cordelia and Adrian Scarborough was the Fool.

Photo by Mark Douet

30. A Small Family Business – 12 June 2014 (Olivier Theatre)

By Alan Ayckbourn. Directed by Adam Penford.

A Small Family Business returned to the National Theatre for the first time since its celebrated premiere in 1987.

The impressive set, designed by Tim Hatley, included the interior of a whole house building layers to the family’s trials and tribulations.

Photo by Johan Persson

31. Skylight – 17 July 2014 (Wyndham's Theatre)

By David Hare. Directed by Stephen Daldry. With Robert Fox Ltd.

Skylight originally premiered at the National Theatre in 1995 with Michael Gambon and Lia Williams.

In this version, Bill Nighy (who took over from Gambon in the original production in 1997) reprised the role alongside Carey Mulligan. She cooked spaghetti bolognese live on stage every night. Anyone else hungry?

Photo by John Haynes

32. Medea – 4 September 2014 (Olivier Theatre)

By Euripides, in a new version by Ben Power. Directed by Carrie Cracknell.

Helen McCrory played the title role in this powerful tragedy and what a performance it was. This was the National Theatre’s first ever production of Medea, and it included an early appearance from Michaela Coel, before her TV success with Chewing Gum. 

Photo by Richard Hubert Smith

33. A Streetcar Named Desire – 16 September 2014 (The Young Vic)

By Tennessee Williams. Directed by Benedict Andrews.

‘I don’t want realism. I want magic!’

Our first broadcast from The Young Vic. Staged in the round, with a set that revolved at a different pace every night – never quite finishing in the same locations – this was one of the most challenging productions for NT Live to film. The production style had to be improvised and adapted. Gillian Anderson took on the role of Blanche DuBois. 

Photo by Johan Persson

34. Of Mice and Men – 6 November 2014 (Long Acre Theatre)

By John Steinbeck. Directed by Anna Shapiro. With 101 Productions Ltd.

NT Live overseas! Our only release (so far) to be filmed in another country and on Broadway. The all-star cast included James Franco, Chris O’Dowd, Anna D. Shapiro and Leighton Meester. 

Photo by Richard Phibbs

35. John – 9 December 2014 (Lyttelton Theatre)

Written and directed by Lloyd Newson. With DV8.

Lloyd Newson, DV8’s Artistic Director, interviewed more than 50 men asking them frank questions, initially about love and sex. One of those men was John. What followed was an exciting production combining dance and physical theatre. 

Photo by Laurent Philippe

36. Treasure Island – 22 January 2015 (Olivier Theatre)

By Bryony Lavery, based on the novel by Robert Louis Stevenson. Directed by Polly Findlay.

An extravagant performance from the Olivier that captured the family audience once more. The production included an ensemble cast with Arthur Darvill as Long John Silver and Patsy Ferran as Jim Hawkins. 

Photo by Johan Persson

37. Behind the Beautiful Forevers – 12 March 2015 (Olivier Theatre)

By David Hare, based on the novel by Katherine Boo. Directed by Rufus Norris.

With a cast including Meera Syal and Hiran Abeysekara, who starred in Life of Pi almost ten years later, this was the first NT Live directed by Rufus Norris who has since directed a whole host of NT Live plays – including our 100th play, Nye.

Photo by Richard Hubert Smith

38. A View from the Bridge – 26 March 2015 (The Young Vic)

By Arthur Miller. Directed by Ivo Van Hove.

The first NT Live directed by Ivo van Hove featured Nicola Walker and Mark Strong. This captivating drama ended with an avalanche of blood that covered the whole stage and all actors in blood as well as a few cameras in the front row! 

Image by Jan Versweyveld

39. The Hard Problem – 16 April 2015 (Dorfman Theatre)

By Tom Stoppard. Directed by Nicholas Hytner.

The first play by Tom Stoppard broadcast with NT Live and Stoppard’s first play since 2006.

The cast included Olivia Vinall as a young psychology researcher at a brain science institute and Damien Molony 

Photo by Johan Persson

40. Man and Superman – 14 May 2015 (Lyttelton Theatre)

By Bernard Shaw. Directed by Simon Godwin.

A stellar cast including Ralph Fiennes and Indira Varma in an exhilarating reinvention of Shaw’s witty, provocative classic. The set featured a real car on stage and an eye-catching overall design. Vroom vroom. 

Photo by Johan Persson

41. Everyman – 16 July 2015 (Olivier Theatre)

By Carol Ann Duffy. Directed by Rufus Norris.

This was the first play during Rufus Norris’ tenure as Artistic Director of the National Theatre.

Chiwetel Ejiofor was Everyman – a successful and popular man who is riding high when Death comes calling. We still can’t forget those incredible costumes! 

Photo by Richard Hubert Smith

42. The Beaux' Stratagem – 3 September 2015 (Olivier Theatre)

By George Farquhar. Directed by Simon Godwin.

The ‘Beaux’: Mr Aimwell and Mr Archer, the ‘stratagem’ to marry for money.

Lodged at the local inn they encounter variety of human obstacles: a crooked landlord, a fearsome highwayman and a turbulent priest. Another iconic turn from director Simon Godwin. 

Photo by Manuel Harlan

43. Hamlet – 15 October 2015 (Barbican Centre)

By William Shakespeare. Directed by Lyndsey Turner. With Sonia Friedman Productions.

Led by Benedict Cumberbatch, this was the fastest-selling production in London theatre history at the time! The stage company surprised the cinema audience watching at the Barbican by running into the screening room after their curtain call and doing a second curtain call there.  

Photo by Johan Persson

44. Jane Eyre – 8 December 2015 (Lyttelton Theatre)

By Charlotte Brontë. Directed by Sally Cookson. With Bristol Old Vic.

170 years on from when the novel was written, this bold and dynamic production uncovers one woman’s fight for freedom and fulfilment on her own terms. The play was first staged by Bristol Old Vic in 2014, when the story was performed over two evenings.

Cookson brought her celebrated production to the National, presented as a single, exhilarating performance which was captured for NT Live. 

Photo by Manuel Harlan

45. Les Liaisons Dangereuses – 28 January 2016 (Donmar Warehouse)

By Christopher Hampton. Directed by Josie Rourke.

A starry cast included Janet McTeer, Adjoa Andoh, Dominic West, Morfydd Clark and Una Stubbs. The revival marked the play’s 30th anniversary and featured some seriously elaborate wigs, costumes and chandeliers.

Photo by Johan Persson

46. As You Like It – 25 February 2016 (Olivier Theatre)

By William Shakespeare. Directed by Polly Findlay.

This was the return of Shakespeare’s glorious comedy of love and change to the National Theatre in over 30 years.

The striking set was made up of hanging chairs and the cast included Rosalie Craig as Rosalind and Patsy Ferran as Celia. The play even included live singing from a ten-piece choir. 

Photo by Johan Persson

47. Hangmen – 3 March 2016 (Wyndham's Theatre)

By Martin McDonagh. Directed by Matthew Dunster. With Playful Productions.

The cast of this play, set in a small pub in northern town Oldham, included British TV favourites David Morrissey, Johnny Flynn (recently in The Motive and the Cue), Andy Nyman and Craig Parkinson. The award-winning production returned to the West End following a sold-out run at London’s Royal Court Theatre. 

Photo by Helen Maybanks

48. The Deep Blue Sea – 1 September 2016 (Lyttelton Theatre)

By Terrance Rattigan. Directed by Carrie Cracknell. With Playful Productions.

Helen McCrory‘s third NT Live performance in a production that also included Tom Burke. The gorgeous set design evoked the era and the social pressures of early 1950s London. 

Photo by Richard Hubert Smith

49. The Threepenny Opera – 22 September 2016 (Olivier Theatre)

By Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill, in collaboration with Elisabeth Hauptmann, in a new adaptation by Simon Stephens. Directed by Rufus Norris.

The first and only Brechtian play broadcast through NT Live. This production included Rory Kinnear, Rosalie Craig and Haydn Gwynne and incorporated the National Theatre’s drum revolve into its burlesque, steampunk staging with fiery wit and some seriously powerful language. 

Photo by Richard Hubert Smith

50. No Man's Land – 22 September 2016 (Wyndham's Theatre)

By Harold Pinter. Directed by Sean Mathias. With Playful Productions.

Could you get a more iconic acting pair for number 50?

Following a hit run on Broadway, Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart came to the West End as the dynamic duo Hirst and Spooner. This production, which also starred Owen Teale and Damien Molony, won the 2016 Evening Standard Award for Best Revival. 

Photo by Johan Persson