All the shows to watch on the National Theatre at Home streaming service
In 2020, over 15 million people watched free theatre streams from the National Theatre, allowing audiences from over 170 countries to experience new theatre. After global success, the South Bank venue has begun its own streaming service: National Theatre at Home. Since its launch in December 2020, 19 productions are currently available to view either one time or on demand.
Here’s a rundown of all the shows on National Theatre at Home, as well as what LondonTheatre.co.uk said about the productions when they were on stage.
National Theatre at Home shows
Amadeus - Lucian Msamati plays Antonio Salieri in this 2016 production, seen at the Olivier Theatre. The titular musical prodigy is caught in a sharp battle with Mozart, orchestrated by new symphonies and in fact God. But, can the pair harmonise their musical melodies together? In a review, Dom O’Hanlon said “the total integration of the musicians to the wider mise en scène… quite rightly places the music at the heart of the production… a giddy, stylish and opulent revival of total music theatre at its most exciting.”
Angels in America - Thousands tried to grab tickets to see Andrew Garfield and Russell Tovey in the two-part play, and now you can watch it at home. Staged at the National’s Lyttelton in 2017, this revival was theatre at its finest, and hailed “as necessary as oxygen.”
Antigone - How can you “encapsulate the essential conflicts between politics, power, the rights of the individual and common humanity”? Easy. Theatre. Don Taylor’s 2012 adaptation of Sophocles’ Greek drama revived a millennia-old story into the present day.
Behind the Beautiful Forevers - Dramatising the juxtaposition of poverty and wealth in Mumbai, Meera Syal starred in David Hare’s 2014 play, seen at the Olivier Theatre. In a review, “Director Rufus Norris blends it into an atmospheric, sprawling work, with a massive cast of 34 animating it with a lot of colour.”
Cat on a Hot Tin Roof - Sienna Miller and Jack O’Connell starred in the West End revival of Tennessee William’s stylish drama, performed at the Apollo Theatre. Unlike earlier revivals, “the whole image resembles a prison cell for the nouveau riche.”
Consent - Nina Raine’s 2017 play was first at the Dorfman Theatre, later transferring to the Harold Pinter Theatre. It’s the National performances that can be streamed, and it’s “expertly delivered by a committed and fearless cast who together mine a form of naturalism that feels appropriate to both character and situation, never indulging yet blooming at the appropriate swells.”
Coriolanus - Tom Hiddleston plays the lead role in this 2013 production, directed by Josie Rourke at the Donmar Warehouse. Both Hiddleston and Mark Gatiss were nominated for Olivier Awards for their performances, and this explosive drama translates well on screen. In a review, Mark Shenton said: “this company bring a fierce intensity and immediacy to this visceral, violently charged political drama. This is Shakespeare that is up close, shocking and powerful.”
Dara - First performed in Pakistan, Shahid Nadeem’s play found its London home in the Lyttleton Theatre in 2015. Zubin Varla and Prasanna Puwanarajah starred in this political drama, where a war develops between heirs to the Muslim future. In a review, Mark Shenton said: “the National Theatre is to be applauded for stretching its cultural reach east as well as West.”
I Want My Hat Back - Joel Horwood and Arthur Darvill adapted Jon Klassen’s childrens book into a musical. The whimsical production follows a bear, who can't find his hat. Asking all the animals in the forest, he's clueless.
Julie - Vanessa Kirby played the title role in Polly Stenham’s 2018 adaptation, seen at the Lyttelton Theatre. Newly set in present-day London, Julie is definitely a play for the younger generation; a shining example of “how we should approach theatre for young people.”
Julius Caesar - The second show staged at the Bridge Theatre now gets a new virtual life. Ben Whishaw plays the title character, which has “placed the show in the here and now, and given it a thrilling contemporary urgency by immersing the audience at the centre of it."
Medea - Helen McCrory leads the cast in this 2014 adaptation, following the title character’s attempts to seek revenge on her ex-husband. Michaela Coel, Danny Sapani and Dominic Rowan also star, with Charlotte Valori saying: “underpinned by a powerhouse central performance from McCrory...Medea makes for a potent evening of ancient drama with sharp psychological observation, dark humour, and plenty of bite.”
Mosquitoes - Lucy Kirkwood’s play sees Olivia Colman and Olivia Williams play two sisters together, forced together by a collision. One’s a scientist. One spends her time Googling. So how do their pair reunite? Seen at the Dorfman Theatre in 2017, our review makes it clear. “You don't have to be a rocket scientist to be drawn in to Kirkwood's powerful family drama.”
Othello - Adrian Lester and Rory Kinnear play Othello and Iago in this 2013 production, which saw both actors winning Best Actor at the Evening Standard Theatre Awards. Nicholas Hytner’s rendition gave a new lease of life to this Shakespeare tragedy, where “time really does roar by in what is actually a fast-moving, brilliantly directed and immensely gripping production.”
Phèdre - In 2009, the National Theatre began to stream their productions worldwide, with Phèdre being the first play broadcast. Helen Mirren leads the cast in Jean Racine’s Greek drama, pulsating with electric moments.
The Cherry Orchard - Zoe Wanamaker starred in Andrew Upton’s adaptation of the Chekhovian classic, staged in the Olivier. But could this new production transform the well known work? In a review, “the overall effect is irresistibly fresh and bordering on being hypnotic... the play has tangible atmosphere and there's a well-defined balance between comedy and the inevitable pathos of the ending.”
Three Sisters - Sarah Niles, Rachael Ofori and Natalie Simpson play the sisterly trio in Chekhov’s play, adapted by Inua Ellams to be set in 1960s Nigeria. It wasn’t that long since Three Sisters took over the National, performed in 2019. But, it’s quickly become a classic, with our review saying: “British productions of Chekhov are usually light on laughter and heavy on the tragedy of the situations they portray, but the most striking fact... is that for all the piercing drama that unfolds is how much genuine humour it finds.”
War Horse - First seen at the National Theatre in 2007, the multi-award-winning War Horse can now be experienced on stage via the screen. It’s transcended the National too, including a seven year run at the Gillian Lynne Theatre and worldwide productions leaving everyone falling in love with Joey the horse. In a review of the 2007 production, Peter Brown said: “Even if you're the kind of person who would usually need 'wild horses' to drag you to the theatre, just give this play a chance to work its magic - you couldn't possibly be disappointed.”
Yerma - Billie Piper’s performance in this 2017 Young Vic production saw her win every Best Actress award in the UK. It’s no surprise really. Our review says: “Consistently bracing, urgent and ultimately tragic this is a modern spin on a well-worn text that redefines this play and forces you to consider it as a piece of brand new writing… Stone has instead crafted a whole new structure, characters and dialogue that feast off the very bones of piece and 'liberate' it almost beyond recognition.”
Photo credit: Julius Caesar at the Bridge Theatre (Photo by Manuel Harlan)