The NT-Live broadcast of "Everyman".
Last night we saw the NT-Live broadcast of Everyman here in Weston-super-Mare and were home in time to watch a film and still get to bed early! Whilst we do drive to London to see a show from time to time the ability to see some of the UK's best theatre without having to tackle the M4/M5 late on a weekday night is a real delight ... comfortable seats, easy access, low prices, pick-and-mix and all.
In our local Odeon you also get 2-4-1, by which I mean, you pay to watch one film and due to the bad soundproofing you get to hear a second film for free. Ok, that is a downside, but its still worth it! Indeed, as cinema audience we get to enjoy the interviews with the crew beforehand as well as superb filming which gives us a better view than anyone in the audience though you do get them (the audience!) on the soundtrack even if you lack, of course, the immediacy and the "smell of the greasepaint" that they enjoy.
This really is a powerful new look at the classic morality tale and I don't really know who to thank most; Carol Ann Duffy as the writer, Rufus Norris for his direction or Javier De Frutos for his stage pictures and fast-paced movement - in reality it is a team effort and that really shows. Then there is the cast - at times operating as a single unit but each retaining their individuality, they carry the story along, dragging you in and, in the end making you care about both Everyman and your own place on the path to salvation (whatever that may mean to you). Although based on the medieval morality play forged in the Christian tradition, this is genuinely a story for everyone - whatever their belief or lack thereof.
Chiwetel Ejiofor's Everyman is completely credible, a succesful, self-indulgent waster his sudden meeting with Dermott Crowley as Death, instigated by the despair that God (Kate Duchene) feels looking at the state of mankind, causes his life to unravel before his eyes. His friends, colleagues and family refuse to stand and speak up for him and in the end his only comfort comes from the beautifully portayed Knowledge (Penny Layden). These main characters carry the story strongly but provide a completely accessible, modern, intepretation. Perhaps Death really is that cynical and God that world wery - who could blame them.
In the blink of an eye, Everyman goes from the top (quite literally) to death with just only enough time to regret how his life has sealed his fate; there is no Marley to warn this Scrooge what awaits him and hence the outcome is damation rather than redemption. Asked to reckon our lives at a moment's notice, could we?