3 screenings to catch at the Esplanade’s National Theatre Live this July

If you’re a dedicated theatergoer, then this line-up would feature prominently on your bucket list: an internationally acclaimed production of War Horse; King Lear with the title role played by Sir Ian McKellen; and Shakespeare’s Antony & Cleopatra with Ralph Fiennes and Sophie Okonedo portraying one of history’s most captivating love affairs. Watching them in person at the National Theatre in London would have called for a good portion of your life savings and multiple trips to the British capital, but come July, you’ll get to experience all three on the big screen at the Esplanade over a single weekend.

Returning to Singapore on Jul 27 and 28, National Theatre Live is an initiative that brings some of the world’s greatest stage productions to more than 2,500 venues across 65 countries and territories. Using cutting-edge filming techniques designed for individual productions, National Theatre Live presents screenings of the performances as they played out, with wide shots that give you a sense of scale and close-ups of the action that even front-row seats may not have given you. Here’s what you can look forward to during this run at the Esplanade Theatre.

War Horse

, 3 screenings to catch at the Esplanade’s National Theatre Live this July

“The theatre event of the decade,” read the Sunday Times’ five-star review of War Horse, and that was almost an understatement. Few plays from this century have captured the imagination quite like Nick Stafford’s adaptation of Michael Morpurgo’s novel. Set during World War I, War Horse tells the story of Joey, the titular horse, and his young owner, Albert. Joey is sold to serve in the war effort, and is brought to the deadly frontlines of the conflict in France. Albert decides to follow, to bring his horse back to their home in Devon. Even if you’ve watched War Horse before, this screening will allow you to see the iconic work of South Africa’s Handspring Puppet Company from a new perspective. Jul 27, 7:30pm

Antony & Cleopatra

, 3 screenings to catch at the Esplanade’s National Theatre Live this July

The story of the Roman general Mark Antony and the Egyptian queen Cleopatra often toes a line between fact and fiction. The countless portrayals of their ill-fated romance in paintings and on stage and screen have ensured that they are legendary figures as much as they are historical ones. William Shakespeare’s Antony & Cleopatra, transports you to Alexandria and Rome in the 1st century BC, as love comes in the way of duty with tragic results. Ralph Fiennes and Sophie Okonedo play the lead roles in a production that was hailed as “slick, stylish and action-packed” by Time Out London. Jul 27, 2pm

King Lear

, 3 screenings to catch at the Esplanade’s National Theatre Live this July

Sir Ian McKellen is a living treasure, and while many will know him best for his roles in some of pop culture’s biggest films, it’s on stage in a Shakespearean role where his acting talents can truly be appreciated. Described by the man himself as his last turn in a work by the Bard, McKellen’s performance as King Lear was called “extraordinarily moving” by the Independent. If this really is his last hurrah, then his sublime portrayal of an aging monarch and his decline into madness in the face of his daughters’ betrayal is a fitting finale. Jul 28, 2pm

Tickets are available for $20 (Cat 2) and $28 (Cat 1). Four Cat 1 tickets (applicable across all three National Theatre Live screenings) can be purchased for $100. For more information and to book your tickets, visit the Esplanade website.