When we were under the assumption that Les was required to check into admission for prostate surgery on March 4th, 7am at Watford General Hospital, we booked a hotel for the night before. To get the best rate one has to commit, so we did, the surgery was rescheduled, and we found ourselves with a hotel room and no means of refund or rescheduling.
We decided to make a date night of it. Les made arrangements for a coupon dinner special through Pizza Express and purchased tickets to a performance of War Horse. I was surprised this play was appearing in Watford. Les realized after paying £15.00 per ticket, that the event was actually listed as a film, however he couldn't locate any information on the Palace Theatre web site explaining what, exactly we had purchased but we decided to give it a go.
Anonymous A was kind enough to give us a lift into town. Thank dear friend! We appreciate your kindness.
We checked in to the Jurys Inn, got our bearings, and walked to Pizza Express for dinner. Away from the boat, Les and I focus in on each other and our conversations tend to be deeper and more philosophical. Dinner was delicious and we were relaxed and set to enjoy an evening of...theatre? Film? Theatrical Film?
Our seats were front row center. We peeled out of our winter coats and settled down. It quickly became apparent, with the pre-show material being screened, that we had paid for tickets to a live broadcast from London's West End National Theatre of War Horse!
|© Tracy Wheeler, 2014, One Hand Clapping Blog|
The lights went down, the National Theatre cameras panned across the live audience as the lights went down in London and the show began. I can only say it was wonderful. The Handspring Puppet Company puppeteers were amazing--unobtrusive, and yet the living essence of their characters, providing not only the movements of each animal but also the vocal sounds. It was brilliant! I've never seen anything like it in my long experience of participating in theatre as a performer as well as an audience member.
At one very poignant moment in the production I glanced sideways as Les wiped a tear from his eyes. Success! He was lost in the story unfolding in front of our eyes. Just after intermission, as a special part of the broadcast, five minutes was taken for the show's director and Michael Morpurgo, the author of the book, to chat about the craft of making the show and the puppets which helped place the overall production in context.
Moved and surprised by our experience, we made our way back to the hotel in the strange yellow city-lit night, our breath spilling out of us in clouds as we walked arm in arm. Back in our room we took advantage of the deep, long bathtub and endless lashings of scalding hot water to soak in Gilchrist & Soames bubble bath--a sybaritic treat for narrow boat live-aboards who can only shower--and that for about three minutes before the hot water is gone.
The next morning we enjoyed the hotel's fine breakfast buffet, picked up a few items in the shops and caught the 500 bus back to Cow Roast and NB Val. Our excursion did us a world of good and our National Theatre Live Experience piqued Les' curiosity about other production broadcasts. Here is what we discovered:
"National Theatre Live is the National theatre's groundbreaking project to broadcast the best of British theatre live from the London stage to cinemas across the UK and around the world." (NTL website, accessed 03/12/14)
We felt we had the best seats in the house no matter where we sat. We experienced closeup shots of the puppets and actors in action from the best viewpoint possible thanks to the cameras which actually enhanced our personal experience of the play.
|© National Theatre Live, 2014|
Our tickets for front row, center cost £15.00. Seats in London at the live production in the very same section cost £62.50. We highly recommend folks take advantage of this fine means of experiencing great theatre. There are live broadcasts throughout the UK and overseas--even Seattle, Washington! British Opera and Shakespeare productions from Stratford-on-Avon are also providing live broadcasts, which means I have a great chance of getting Les to see Shakespeare's Richard III some day.