The upcoming Manchester International Festival production of William Shakespeare’s Macbeth has been causing considerable buzz – thanks to its limited run, unusual setting and basically perfect cast. The great Sir Kenneth Branagh will play Macbeth, joined by Doctor Who’s Alex Kingston as Lady Macbeth, Merlin's Alexander Vlahos as Malcolm and Coronation Street’s Ray Fearon as Macduff.
Seriously, England gets the best theater. It’s just unfair.
This production marks Branagh’s first Shakespeare performance in over a decade, which seems a bit strange when you remember how well he was once known for Henry V, Much Ado About Nothing and that epic four-hour Hamlet. So, it probably comes as no surprise that tickets to this extremely limited run sold out in record time.
Directed by Rob Ashford and Branagh himself, Shakespeare’s tragic tale of ambition and treachery will unfold within the walls of a deconsecrated Manchester church. Seriously. How cool is that? If this were happening anywhere near here, wouldn’t we all be lining up for the chance to see this play? Well, luckily, even though we’re not in Manchester, we don’t have to miss out on this production completely.
The fantastic National Theatre Live program will broadcast the July 20 performance to cinemas around the world. Be warned, though, Americans – not every theater that participates in NT Live screenings shows them on the “live” broadcast day, but that doesn’t mean you won’t get the chance to see them. For example, here in DC our friends at the Shakespeare Theater Company participate in NT Live, though their screenings tend to run a bit behind the live simulcast date.
If you absolutely must see a live simulcast, your best bet is to investigate movie theaters that show productions from Fathom Events. But, the filmed productions are still fantastic even if you’re not “watching live” – I saw the filmed version of Frankenstein three times last summer and am looking forward to seeing The Audience again in a month or so, even if I did actually see it in London already. (Spoiler: Helen Mirren is incredible. You should go.) It’s a wonderful program and a fantastic way to get to see a lot of truly great theater for much less than the cost of a flight to London.
Keep an eye on the official NT Live Macbeth page for updates on the screening schedule for Macbeth here in the States! (Perhaps a blog meetup might be in order once we get a DC date for this? Just a suggestion!)