Much Ado Review and What About Digital Theatre?

Catherine Tate & David Tennant in Much Ado About Nothing   Pic: Sonia Friedman Productions


When we heard that our favourite play of the year, Much Ado About Nothing, starring our favourite actor, David Tennant, was going to be first available for release on a digital download from Digital Theatre, we worried. We were expecting problems. A number of the DT Forum members are somewhat technically challenged. And we were expecting them to have a lot of problems with downloading and playing the Much Ado.



We were absolutely wrong; that is not to say there haven’t been a few minor technical glitches, but the Digital Theatre team has been able to quickly resolve any problems that have arisen. We expected all sorts of capacity issues with their site overloaded by simultaneous download requests but it was only down a few minutes on the day of the release. Barely suffering the “David Tennant broke the internet” curse.



The Digital Theatre player is able to withstand interruptions in transmission, handle very slow Internet connections and recover from issues without restarting. We have members from different locations all over the world, and all but a few have been able to download and play Much Ado. The install process is one of the best and simplest we have seen and the quality of the support staff of Digital Theatre is excellent.



Digital Theatre has come a long way in the two years since inception; working in partnership with Britain’s leading theatre companies, the lovely people at Digital Theatre capture live performance authentically onscreen, bringing the drama and emotion of each production to a global audience. Their library spans a wide range of traditional and contemporary plays. Current uploads include As You Like It with the RSC; Over There captured at the Royal Court; Kafka’s Monkey and The Container both captured at the Young Vic Theatre; Arthur Miller’s iconic All My Sons, starring David Suchet and Zoe Wanamaker, captured at the Apollo Theatre; an adaptation of Hardy’s Far From the Madding Crowd by English Touring Theatre; Macbeth filmed at the Liverpool Everyman and Playhouse and The Comedy of Errors especially designed for family audiences by the RSC and Told by an Idiot, captured at the Clapham Community Project.



Digital Theatre also provides their services for educational purposes. Digital Theatre Plus is their sister company where all of the productions are available for schools or universities. They also come with a whole range of documentaries, interviews and written learning guides.



You can check it out here: www.digitaltheatreplus.com.



Digital Theatre looks set for big things in the new year! They’ve done an excellent job of creating an easy-to-use video player that works so that one and all can watch some of the best theatre on offer. Well done, Digital Theatre!



So what about the play itself? I saw the play live and was worried about it being taped. The unsung stars of Much Ado, were both the Wyndham’s theatre and the brilliant revolving stage of Robert Jones. The theatre and the stage design all created the perfect backdrop for Benedict and Beatrice’s lovely Messina. It was lit perfectly, the blocking was excellent and the play just flowed across the stage. I could only see problems trying to recapture the magic of the play on video.



Once again I was wrong. Digital Theatre filmed the play over several performances during the last week of August. The impact of the revolving stage was lost but in its place the film crew picked several different angles and caught close facial expressions of the actors that were not visible in the audience of the live play. The sound quality was excellent and picked up areas that were hard to hear during the live performances. In particular, the Sarah Macrae (Hero), Kathyrn Hunt (Ursula) and Hannah Warren-Green (Margaret’s) discussion during Catherine Tate (Beatrice’s) high wire act was audible. In general, the stage lighting worked well and the very talented film crew was able to compensate in areas where it didn’t work-but all in all it looked beautiful.



It is a different play on video than on the stage. By its nature, video directs the viewer’s focus. It tells you what to watch and when. It allows you to see moments that you may have missed at a live performance, giving you a different emotional impact. I am very impressed about how well the play was captured.



I recommend both Digital Theatre and their Much Ado recording a must for theatre, Shakespeare and David Tennant lovers.



Well done all!!


Comments

  1. Liz Bell says

    I too went to see this production and also downloaded the video from Digital Theatre, both of which surpassed my expectations. The live performance was amazing (a special mention for Adam James too) and richly deserved the standing ovation at the end. Both DT and CT have the skill to completely grip the audience and it was mesmerising to watch.

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