Treating ourselves, in troubled times

I can still remember how disappointed I was to miss the National Theatre production of Twelfth Night, back in early 2017. No, I wasn’t planning to head up to London, it was to be a live broadcast in cinemas and theatres across the country.

I’ve mentioned these productions before. They’re popular. This one was drawing a lot of media interest thanks to casting Tamsin Grieg as Malvolio, and Doon Mackichan as Feste.

There was only one problem, I’d let my ‘friend’ status lapse, so was denied access to the first wave of booking. Seats were snapped up almost as soon as they went on sale. I kicked myself. It was far from the first show I’d missed that way.

However, soon after the ‘lock-down’ started, National Theatre announced that they would re-release some of their catalogue on YouTube, on a weekly basis. They started with, One Man, Two Guvnors, another show I’d failed to book for.

The night before my surgery, we pulled the curtains, turned the lights down, and joined James Corden, in Brighton. Oh how I laughed.

I’ve missed a couple of weeks. Last Saturday afternoon, though, I settled down Madam Recaimier style, with a cooling drink to hand, and let myself get washed up on the shore of Illyria alongside Viola and Sebastian.

I hear your concern: ‘Did it live up to expectations?’

Oh, yes, and more. Even watching on our large household sized screen, on a sunny afternoon, it was a smooth transition.

The stage design alone was stunning. Add to that some brilliant casting, exciting costumes, lovely musical interludes and witty modern references, and I was hooked.

If you’ve somehow missed hearing about these shows, up to now, let me recommend you drop in at the National Theatre website. The programme changes weekly, on a Thursday, at 7pm GMT, so there are still a few days to catch up with Olivia, Orsino, Antonio and friends. After that, I’m looking forward to Benedict Cumberbatch and Jonny Lee Miller in Frankenstein.