All Ivo van Hove, all the time. The force of this live experience is all about the director, and he takes it to Greek tragedy. At the center, an all-consuming performance from Mark Strong as Eddie. As van Hove says in intro, theatre has to be more than TV entertainment.
What does a real director do?
She makes the known and familiar new and threatening. He creates the visual equivalent of unforgettable lines – live moments with living bodies that burn into your memory forever. S/he scares the shit out of you with how good theatre can be.
When it comes to creating a world class live theatre event, a good director is essential. You can take a great play on the page and read it aloud and have a pretty good time. But you can only attain those 5 star lifetime highs in the theatre with a good – nay great – director. For the director is co-creator with the playwright.
Ivo van Hove is the kind of director you want to be around. He creates unforgettable live performance that demonstrates what is possible. He creates events that are unmissable, must-see (and usually sold out) tickets. It’s the kind of experience you can’t get in film. And it’s worth throwing yourself on 99 duds in the theatre as long as every 100th time a van Hove comes along.
Today van Hove’s Young Vic production of A VIEW FROM THE BRIDGE snagged three Olivier awards. Not bad for a show with a bare stage.
The bad news: the show was on in London and closed yesterday. The good news: it’s on in Portland via NT Live the next two weekends.
So in this case, the only way on earth you can see this show now is on NT Live.
Yes, it’s the screen. But still. If you’ve got a taste for world class theatre, NT Live it your outlet in Portland.
You hear that a lot these days in reference to jobs, partners, life.
What about theatre?
What would not settling look like, when it comes to theatre?
BEHIND THE BEAUTIFUL FOREVERS reminds us that out there in theatre land across the sea, where there are both world class shows and audiences, big theatre as vibrant and important as it is possible to be is not only happening – it’s routine.
All you have to do is eyeball the Guardian reviews page for a glimpse into the absurd abundance of London. Actually, better you don’t look.
Sure, London is a world epicenter for epic theatre. But still.
Once someone runs a 4 minute mile somewhere in the world, that then becomes the standard – for anyone else ANYWHERE in the world.
You don’t say, “Yeah, we’re slower. We’ll just shoot for a 5 minute mile over here. That’s all we can do.”
NT Live is both good and bad. It’s good in that it brings us the stage of the National Theatre, something we’d all like to see up close and personal a little more frequently.
But it’s also pretty bad in that it forces us to acknowledge what we’ve been settling for. Yikes. Once you’ve had NT Live, it makes it a bit hard to go back to [show name here].
Another interesting thing about NT Live – the mythical Portland audience materializes out of the ether. There they are in droves. They will turn out and pack the place for NT Live. But by and large, they won’t come out for a lot of the bush league inanity that passes for theatre in Portland. Can you blame them? They know quality. When there’s quality, they’ll be there. When there’s not – they’ll go to NT Live and save up for a trip to London.
That’s an opportunity for Portland theatres that want to do more than serve as truck stops for the same generic fare that you can find anywhere in America. That’s an opportunity to create something uniquely Portland, something that you can only see here, that people will come from all over the world to see.
Think big. Watch BEHIND THE BEAUTIFUL FOREVERS and ask, what could our equivalent of that be?
And don’t settle.
If you missed BEHIND THE BEAUTIFUL FOREVERS, we’ll let you off the hook because it shows again on April 4.
Bill Nighy takes over the place, but his performance far surpasses the tired dramatic structure. Unlikely and problematic relationship never feels right. Young social worker is pursuing her difficult career and alone, but she’s still on stand by anytime the millionaire businessman wants to pop by unannounced? Come on, Hare.
Some of the best theatre in town is in London. But you don’t have to make the trek to the National Theatre. It’s beamed right here to you thanks to Third Rail as the local vessel of NT Live.
This weekend it’s a double shot of Billy Shakes.
There’s MACBETH starring the bad boy from Belfast, Kenneth Branagh, on Saturday.
And OTHELLO with Adrian Lester and Rory Kinnear on Sunday.
Rock ’em, sock ’em. No, it’s not live, but unfortunately you’re going to have to hunt long and hard to find a live show better than these two projected ones. And the nearly full houses for these NT Live shows indicate that Portlanders have finally clued in to what they have here.
A mere 20 bucks gets you there ringside on the Thames.
Can’t beat it.