"Do you remember when you had to go to the theatre to see a play, Granny?"
"I do, my pet, but that all changed in the summer of 2013 when every bloody production going seemed to find its way to a cinema screen. Now put your hoverboard away and go have your rehydrated dinner."
We've been able to watch the occasional theatrical production in cinemas for a couple of years now: NT Live has been broadcasting plays live from the National Theatre since 2009 and you always know if you miss something at Shakespeare's Globe, it'll likely be at a cinema near you the following year. But the trend is currently going a bit nuts, so here's a round-up of what you can see and when to book.
A Doll's House
The Young Vic production featuring Hattie Morahan's outstanding performance transfers to Duke of York's Theatre for a brief run in August, but you can see a screening of the original – with stunning revolving set, which we don't know will make it to the West End – at the British Library tonight, 3 June, 6.15pm, £7.50 / £5.
2012 was a bit of a golden year for the Globe, with Mark Rylance's Twelfth Night (featuring Stephen Fry as Malvolio), Jamie Parker's storming Henry V and a feisty Taming of the Shrew. All three are playing in cinemas across London this summer: Henry V from today, 3 June; Twelfth Night from 1 July and Taming of the Shrew from 25 July. Prices will vary according to cinema.
Helen Mirren picked up an Olivier award for her performance as Her Majesty in Peter Morgan's new play; but if we can be heretical for a moment, it was Richard McCabe as 70s Labour Prime Minister Harold Wilson who won our hearts (and an Olivier award himself). Although it's on at The Gielgud, NT Live will broadcast it as it happens on 13 June. Watch out for repeat performances in the weeks after, too.
If you wanted to see Kenneth Branagh and Alex Kingston in MacBeth you would have had to travel up to Manchester and have your tickets already, because it's completely sold out. Handy, then, that NT Live will broadcast it on 20 July. Venues are still to be announced (but there'll be loads), as is the date when tickets go on sale.
The National Theatre's production of Othello is one of the most gripping things we've seen in a while: the two central performances from Adrian Lester and Rory Kinnear will have awards panels tearing at each other's throats later in the year. See it broadcast live to cinemas on 26 September, with repeat showings in the weeks following. Tickets are on sale now.
Another Shakespeare production, this time at the Donmar Warehouse and not even opening until December! However, the casting of Tom Hiddleston as the titular Roman general and Mark Gatiss as patrician Menenius has got people salivating. Tickets for the Donmar are always difficult to get hold of so this may be your best bet to see the play. Tickets go on sale 7 June for broadcast on 30 January 2014.
One of our favourite plays of all time, This House has now ended at the National Theatre, but it finished its run with a live broadcast. Encore screenings (i.e., repeats) are still happening in cinemas across London this week and we can only urge you to see this heartwarming and hilarious production while you can.