The Habit of Art

Our first play of 2014 was a rebroadcast of an earlier production of the National Theatre Live show, starring Richard Griffiths as WH Auden, Alex Jennings as Benjamin Britten and Frances de la Tour as the Stage Manager. 

It is a play within a play that imagines a conversation between Britten and Auden. The performances are excellent, but I think I needed to know a lot more about the two characters to really understand this play and the interactions between the two men. the added layer of the rehearsal of the play, the comments of the author and the directions and mothering of the stage manager are quite amusing and provide an interesting insight into how a play comes together, but they complicate the story of the two main characters. 

It was an interesting afternoon, but definitely the weakest of the NT live shows that we have seen to date. 


About cathyriggall

Theatre junkie, who thinks live theatre is the ultimate form of living on the edge. You never know what will happen when an actor steps on the stage.
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One Response to The Habit of Art

  1. keithhpotter says:

    I am sure stage managers love the portrayal here of the stage manager in the play-within-a-play: wise, understanding, managing the chaos. And there were strong performances from the actors.
    But the play has a lack of focus; Bennett couldn’t decide whether it was about Auden & Britten or the process of producing a play.
    Also, perhaps because this is a repeat of an earlier performance, the technical side was below NTL’s usual standards (at least now). The camera kept zooming in and out without any clear rationale, sometimes focusing on an actor who wasn’t the centre of the action at the time, and the sound volume jumped up and down, seemingly at random.
    It was okay overall but far below the usual NTL standards. Heaven knows why they chose this production for an encore.

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