Preview: A Street Car Named Desire – National Theater Live


What: A Street Car Named Desire
Where: The Michigan Theater
When: 7pm
How Much: $22

Michigan Theater is hosting London’s National Theater Live productions on the silver screen.
The Young Vic Theater staged Tennessee Williams’ “A Street Car Named Desire” this summer 2014 to record ticket sales. The production stars Gillian Anderson (x-files) as Blanche DuBois opposite Ben Foster (Six Feet Under, Kill Your Darlings) as Stanley with Vanessa Kirby (BBC’s Great Expectations, Three Sisters at the Young Vic) as Stella.

Blanche, an aging Southern Belle, comes to New Orleans to visit her sister Stella and her difficult and unlikable brother-in-law Stanley. Blanche’s presence creates conflict between the couple who have a passionate marriage and love life. Her proper countenance disrupts the married couple’s codependence resulting in emotional violence and the implied sexual abused of Blanche by Stanley, which leads to a breakdown in Blanche’s mental health.

A Street Car Named Desire is a Pulitzer Prize Winning Play and Academy Award Winning Film.

For Tickets Visit the UMS Website: here

REVIEW: Coriolanus

Seeing Coriolanus at the Michigan Theater was definitely a good decision. The acting was spectacular, of course. A cast of greats including Tom Hiddleston and Mark Gatiss left the little Donmar Warehouse with queues of people camping out overnight to buy tickets to the show. The audience in the screening of this production probably mirrored the Donmar’s usual audience for the show: half an older crowd who enjoy Shakespeare, and the other half a crowd of young women who enjoy Tom Hiddleston (I would like to include myself in both of these categories). Hiddleston’s portrayal of Caius Martius Coriolanus left nothing to be desired as his acting ran the spectrum of emotions: a ruthless soldier who would like nothing more than to add one more man’s blood to his sword, to a son pleading for comfort and compassion from his mother. He carried the show, and wasn’t afraid to get dirty.

The Donmar is a great example of the kinds of theaters in which I prefer to see Shakespeare performed. It is a thrust stage (the audience sits on three sides), and a small space with limited seating. Shakespeare, to me, is best seen and understood in an intimate setting, and I believe this held true for Coriolanus. For most people the language takes a little getting used to, but this was achieved quickly with a close-up view of the actors. The smaller stage is also able to take more risks. The set was minimal: the concrete brick wall of the theater painted red and black and littered with graffiti, a ladder permanently fixed on the stage reaching higher than the audience could see, chairs for the actors to sit in while not in the scene, and a red square painted freshly on the stage floor during every performance.

Red was the color of the show. It first appears as it’s being painted on the stage, and next when Martius returns from slaughtering hoards of Rome’s enemies. He’s covered in blood to the point of excess in my eyes, and to the point that he can barely speak or see because so much fake blood has been poured on his head and is dripping in Tom Hiddleston’s eyes. Naturally, to get that blood off of him, water falls from the ceiling onto the stage in a stream steady enough to clean him up so that his face is visible.

Photo via

This is the kind of risk a smaller theater can take that will pay off, and it is executed brilliantly. It has a strong impact, but also doesn’t require a big scene change to accomplish. Sure, the stage gets wet, but they can get some actors with squeegee-like mops to clean it off while another scene is taking place. The stage floor became a set piece in this production, constantly being redecorated with different red objects from flower petals to blood.

I was very unfamiliar with the story of the play upon arrival but the minimal set, the careful portrayals from the actors, and the close proximity of the action allowed me to come away from Coriolanus quite moved. It was an excellent production, and I’m glad that National Theatre Live was able to provide me and many others the opportunity to see it.

PREVIEW: Coriolanus

Photo from the National Theatre website

This Sunday, February 9 at 7:00PM the Donmar Warehouse’s production of Coriolanus will be shown at the Michigan Theater.

Broadcast by National Theatre Live, this Shakespeare play stars Tom Hiddleston (probably best known for his role of Loki in the Marvel franchise) as the title character who must defend the people of his city from imminent attack while also addressing their call for political change. This production is sure to be an intense spectacle not to be missed.

Tickets to see the recorded stage production at the Michigan Theater are still available and can be found through the University Musical Society here.

Review: Macbeth… I mean…. The Scottish Play

My apologies for this rather belated review of National Theater Live’s (NTL) stream of Macbeth at The Michigan which occurred on Sunday the 27th of October.

This is the third performance Michigan Theater has streamed from NTL in London. This was my least favorite. There were some elements I appreciated but over all it was a disappointing performance. Although this production starred Kenneth Branagh as the Scottish king and Alex Kingston as Lady Macbeth, and was directed by Rob Ashford and Kenneth Branagh, staged in an abandoned church and ran with out an intermission, there were many problems.

Personally I am not a fan of Kenneth Branagh, he always comes across as a highly arrogant and self important person, no matter the role he play. Granted many of the roles he has played, Gildaroy Lockhart (Harry Potter) and Hamlet, are considerably narcissistic characters. However, I find him to be an unappealing actor.

Alex Kingston did a lovely job as Lady Macbeth. Although she seemed to have a little problem with over-acting at times.

The staging of this production in an abandoned church was the best choice made by the artistic director. The aisle was the stage, covered in earth which became muddy from the rain which fell from the ceiling during scene 1 act 1, effectively creating the feeling that we were in the Scottish highlands.

The actors abandoned Shakespeare’s essential iambic pentameter, which was an odd choice. Sometimes the rhythmic speech indicative of this style can detract from the story, I didn’t find it to be a bothersome artistic choice in this case. However, the ernest delivery of EVERY SINGLE LINE was rather annoying. There wasn’t much difference in speech where something banal was happening, and those where someone was murdered or murdering. Rather tiresome.

There were a good number of sword fights in this play. They were stiff and over-rehearsed. I can appreciate the difficulty of this kind of physical acting and staging, but at this level of professional theater, I expected better.

Last, but certainly not least, the filming… oh dear god the filming. For some reason the videographer decided to get creative with the arial shots. Considering the live audience would never have had an opportunity to see the production from that particular angle, this was an unfortunate choice.

By the end, we all had to pee. You would have too if you’d sat through close to 3 hours of Shakespeare right after dinner. Coming into this production I didn’t expect great things, due to my dislike of Kenneth Branagh. I left having my minimal expectations met, which is shocking because this production was well received and reviewed when it was on stage earlier this year.

So it goes.

Preview: Macbeth

National Theater Live: Macbeth Trailer

What: Shakespeare
Where: Michigan Theater
When: Sunday 27 October 7.00pm
How Much: $22

The Michigan Theater has been screening performances for London’s National Theater through out the fall. This production of Macbeth will be their final until February.

Starring Kenneth Branagh (Hamlet, My Week With Marilyn) and Alex Kingston (Doctor Who, ER) as Lady Macbeth. Directed by Rob Ashford and Kenneth Branagh.

Should be a thrilling production, the perfect way to usher in Halloween.

Review: Othello

This was one of the most incredible Shakespeare productions I have ever seen.

Starring Rory Kinnear as Iago and Adrian Lester as Othello, this National Theater Live cast is a fantastic adaptation of this production. I have never been so impressed by Shakespeare.