A taste of London outside Boston

One of the few things my wife and I feel like we’ve missed on our trips to London is seeing a show at the National Theatre.

By the time we went on a tour there this year, it was our last day in the city before going to Edinburgh, and we were going to see “Hamilton” that night.

It’s too bad, because the production of “Network” (the same one, starring Bryan Cranston, that just opened on Broadway) looked pretty interesting.

Oh well, maybe next time. I don’t know when, but knowing us, there will almost certainly be a next time.

But not seeing a play at the National Theatre itself hasn’t prevented us from seeing what it has to offer, thanks to National Theatre Live, which presents shows (even ones not staged at the National Theatre itself) to movie theaters.

Last night, we saw “Antony and Cleopatra,” with Ralph Fiennes and Sophie Okonedo in the title roles. It was an excellent show, with much chewing of scenery.

My wife was expecially fascinated by the snakes, especially after reading that one of them had to be replaced because it was “quite fidgety” and liked to “do his own thing.”

Last night’s snake appeared to do what the script required.

My wife has seen a couple shows without me (including “Angels in America”), but I’ve also seen a modern version of “Julius Caesar” starring Ben Whishaw that imagines Caesar as a modern media superstar …

… “Les Liaisons Dangereuses” with Dominic West (who was seemingly placed on this planet to play a cad) …

… and “Hamlet” with Benedict Cumberbatch.

So yeah, the National Theatre doesn’t go small with its plays, its actors and actresses or what it offers through National Theatre Live. I think it’s awesome that they do it.

And for me, that’s three Shakespeare plays … not too bad for someone who was never really into Shakespeare.


Most of the shows we’ve seen have been at the Coolidge Corner Theatre in Brookline, about 25 miles from where we live.

As you might expect of a place that shows performances from the London stage, its menu is eclectic. Starting Dec. 14, you can see “Mary Queen of Scots,” but you can also see Cannes Film Festival Palme d’Or winner “Shoplifters” from Japan, “Maria by Callas” and “Wall Street.”

The Dec. 13 screening of “Elf” will be followed by an after-party at a local bar with karaoke, cider, beer and sushi.

There’s a local theater we go to see new movies that has amazing sound and recliners with food trays for seating. I love it, but I can’t see it as a place that would present Shakespeare plays from London.

The Coolidge, however, seems like a perfect fit.

We’re pretty sure what we want to see next. This year, “Hamilton” was on my wife’s birthday, and next year, the Coolidge is showing “I’m Not Running,” with Sian Brooke, on her birthday.

It looks like it could be another winner.


10 thoughts on “A taste of London outside Boston

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