National Theatre Live

Photo: Ian McKellen and Danny Webb in NT Live’s King Lear. Credit: Johan Persson

National Theatre Live—launched in 2009 by the National Theatre (London)—offers you the opportunity to experience ground-breaking theater from the best seat in the house, at a fraction of the cost. Each production is recorded live, with cameras positioned to provide the best views, and simultaneously broadcast to movie theaters around the world. Subsequently, the recording is made available for encore screenings, which are what we show at the Downing.

November 19


Not Rated
Directed by Jonathan Munby | In English
Starring Ian McKellen
Ca. 3 h 50 min (with 20 min intermission) | 2018


Monday, November 19, 1 pm

Ticket Prices: General $12, Downing Members $10. 


About the Film

Broadcast live from London’s West End, see Ian McKellen’s “extraordinarily moving portrayal” (Independent) of King Lear in cinemas…. Jonathan Munby directs this contemporary retelling of Shakespeare’s tender, violent, moving and shocking play.

Considered by many to be the greatest tragedy ever written, King Lear sees two ageing fathers—one a King, one his courtier—reject the children who truly love them.  Their blindness unleashes a tornado of pitiless ambition and treachery, as family and state are plunged into a violent power struggle with bitter ends.

—National Theatre Live

When a performance is as voraciously anticipated as Ian McKellen’s portrayal of King Lear there is an inevitable risk that reality must defeat expectation. But McKellen does not disappoint…. The modern setting, raw and visually potent, reinforces the enduring relevance of Shakespeare’s emotional truth.’

—I Newspaper

In Jonathan Munby’s thriller-paced and intimate production, McKellen meticulously explores Lear’s delusions of grandeur. The transformation from monarch to shuffling wreck is a complete portrait of decline, not just of a man, but of a nation too.


With finely measured intelligence McKellen traces Lear’s inexorable movement from pomp via rage and shambolic delirium to melancholy tenderness and the agony of belated self-knowledge.

—Evening Standard




‘With finely measured intelligence McKellen traces Lear’s inexorable movement from pomp via rage and shambolic delirium to melancholy tenderness and the agony of belated self-knowledge.’
Evening Standard



Not Rated
Directed by Nicholas Hytner | In English
Written by Alan Bennett


About the Film

Filmed live at London’s Bridge Theatre during its limited run, don’t miss Alan Bennett’s “rousing chorus line for the NHS” (Observer) in your local cinema.

The Beth, an old fashioned cradle-to-grave hospital serving a town on the edge of the Pennines, is threatened with closure as part of an efficiency drive. A documentary crew, eager to capture its fight for survival, follows the daily struggle to find beds on the Dusty Springfield Geriatric Ward, and the triumphs of the old people’s choir. 

Alan Bennett’s celebrated plays include The History Boys, The Lady in the Van and The Madness of George III, all of which were also seen on film. Allelujah! is his tenth collaboration with award-winning director Nicholas Hytner.


Not Rated
Written by Alan Bennett | In English
Starring Mark Gatiss and Adrian Scarborough
2 h 40 min | 2018


About the Film

Multi-award-winning drama The Madness of George III will be broadcast live to cinemas, in National Theatre Live’s first ever broadcast from Nottingham Playhouse.

Written by one of Britain’s best-loved playwrights Alan Bennett (The History Boys, The Lady in the Van), this epic play was also adapted into a BAFTA Award-winning film following its premiere on stage in 1991.

The cast of this new production includes Olivier Award-winners Mark Gatiss (SherlockWolf Hall, NT Live Coriolanus) in the title role, and Adrian Scarborough (Gavin and StaceyUpstairs DownstairsAfter the Dance).

It’s 1786 and King George III is the most powerful man in the world. But his behaviour is becoming increasingly erratic as he succumbs to fits of lunacy. With the King’s mind unravelling at a dramatic pace, ambitious politicians and the scheming Prince of Wales threaten to undermine the power of the Crown, and expose the fine line between a King and a man.

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