The Wellesley’s programme of Live transmissions in March offers something for everyone – opening with a comedy about hanging, followed a remarkable classical ballet from Moscow’s Bolshoi Theatre and a Royal Opera House production of ‘Boris Godunov’ starring Bryn Terfel.
Martin McDonagh’s play ‘Hangmen’ has been reviewed as “the funniest play in London”, the “best new play of the year” and “drop-dead hilarious”. The National Theatre’s production is screened live on Thursday 3 March at 7pm.
The plot focuses on the end of hanging in 60s England but, despite the grim subject matter, the dialogue and action are extremely funny and ‘Hangmen’ is playing to sell-out audiences in London’s West End having transferred from the Royal Court.
In a short prologue, set in 1963, the second-best hangman in England, Harry Wade (played by David Morrissey), presides over the execution of a young man charged with the murder of a young girl. Despite protesting his innocence he is sent to his death while Harry, self-important in his three-piece suit and bow tie, demands his breakfast.
The scene then shifts to 1965 to Harry’s dour pub in Oldham where he is a local celebrity. On the day that hanging is abolished by Harold Wilson’s government, his reaction is sought by reporters, his pub’s regulars and his old assistant. Attitudes and values of 60s Britain are explored in the sharp dialogue, raising important issues such as the sanctity of life, morality and the devastating effects of violence.
Moscow’s Bolshoi Ballet production of the classic ‘Spartacus’ is transmitted on Sunday 13 March at 3pm.
Spartacus, a Thracian king, is captured by Crassus with his wife Phrygia. He is forced to fight as a gladiator and kills one of his friends before plotting an unprecedented resistance.
With choreography by Yuri Grigorovich and music by Adam Kachaturian, ‘Spartacus’ was created at the Bolshoi in 1968 and has remained the company’s signature ballet. This epic production gives full expression to the renowned virility and strength of the Bolshoi’s male dancers. Principal dancer Mikhail Lobukhin dances the role of the legendary gladiator, along with Svetlana Zakharova as Aegina and Vladislav Lantratov as Crassus.
Bryb Terfel, Britain’s ‘best loved baritone’, sings the title role in the Royal Opera House’s new, compact production of Mussorgsky’s masterpiece ‘Boris Godunov’ conducted by Antonio Pappano.
The opera is based Pushkin’s play about Tsar Boris Godunov who reigned over Russia between 1598 and 1605. Boris has become Tsar on the death of the Tsarevich Dimitri but is seen as a murderer and a usurper by his people.
When he hears of Boris’s crime, novice monk Grigori leaves his monastery and sets out to expose Boris by pretending to be Dimitri. Boris is tormented by guilt and fear for his own children’s lives. Fearing that his treachery is about to be exposed, he instructs his son how to govern, asks his forgiveness and then dies. The common people revolt against their leaders and, when Grigori arrives, they hail him as their leader.
This production opens on 14 March. It will be screened live at The Wellesley on Monday 21st March at 7.15pm
The stage adaptation of E Nesbit’s novel ‘The Railway Children’ is certain to be very popular with families when it comes to The Wellesley on Monday 28 March at 4.30pm, coinciding with the start of schools’ Easter vacation.
Transmitted direct from London’s King’s Cross Theatre, the production features a temporary auditorium built around a real train track (which will shortly be removed to make way for Google’s new London headquarters) and a beautiful 60 tonne locomotive built in 1893 that steams into the theatre and fills it with smoke, steel, brass and charisma. The engine which retired from active service in 1948 draws another veteran from the 1890s, Coach No 34, one of only two complete surviving passenger carriages from the Great Northern Railway Line of Scotland.
Audiences join Roberta, Peter and Phyllis on adventures that many will already be familiar with as readers or from watching the movie. The children have moved to Yorkshire following the enforced absence of their father who has been wrongly imprisoned.
The ingenious staging and exuberance of the children who race all over a set built on platforms on either side of the track is simply “quality entertainment, an evocative memory play of the innocence of childhood and the pains of growing up”. Booking early is recommended.