A rare and unplanned Saturday night finally gifted the time to watch the marvellous Into The Woods on Digital Theatre. This is something, as most of you will know, that I have been super excited about for a long time now. So I snuggled into the sofa, diet coke and mini eggs in hand, to let this magical piece of theatre suck me in for the next two hours and thirty three minutes.
This is a particuarly difficult thing to review: Into The Woods is clearly magical, after all it did win an Olivier Award, so there is no use in re-stating what has been said many times, and at perhaps more revlenat times, before. For example, Michael Xavier, Simon Thomas and Hannah Waddingham are outstanding. The set and costumes are breathtaking, making it visually stunning and the Sondheim score is one of his best, obviously. Instead, we must look at Into The Woods on the Digital Theatre Player as a seperate entity, with a distinctly lower ticket price.
The question that must be asked is, does Into The Woods work filmed? But more than that: This is a live recording which has not necessarily been designed to be filmed. And, it is not being viewed on the big screen like the Les Miserables 25th Anniversary Concert or Fela! but rather, I have downloaded this musical and I am sitting watching it on my old beaten up laptop in my flat. This makes Into The Woods an almost entirely new being in musical theatre and a rather interesting one at that.
So: Does it work?
Well frankly, yes! What an utterly enjoyable way to spend a Saturday night. Gone are the days of shaky bootlegs and in their place, this wonderful new innovation.
It is a simple concept: The musical has been filmed live by various different cameras and from various different angles. However, the placement of the cameras allows those at home to feel like they are sitting in the audience, offering a genuine experience, rather than it feeling like a televison version and being filmed like The X Factor with rotating cameras. However, variety is given and the visuals provide for close-ups and the alternation of angles. What surprised me most was that the camera angles actually didn't annoying me! I was concerned that it would feel like I was missing out on something most of the time, however becuase the majority of the visuals were on the entire set with only a few variations at appropritate points, I felt at ease and certainly not irate. Dreamy.
The other points that I loved are really quite obvious: I was able to see the set and costumes in detail, perhaps more clearly than if I were watching in the audience. And, should I miss anything- a word or a moment, I just rewound it and ta-da! I could still follow the story. And, technically I was at the theatre in my jammies. Dream? Yes.
Digital theatre, however, will not replace live theatre. I think if live theatre were going to be phased out it would have happened a long time ago. Instead, it will act as a supplement. For me, instead of listening to just a cast recording, I can now go back and relive the entire performance from start to finish. I can be reminded of those moments that I so loved on the night and find new ones that I missed as I watch it time and time again. And it is legal. Perhaps instead of replacing live theatre, it will just replace YouTube?
And for all those theatre starved individuals out there, whom I once was, this my dear friends, is your life line. Although I will always say that saving up for the trip to London for that yearly theatre trip will always be worth it, use Digital Theatre for the in-between times. To get your theatre kick, if you will. This is what Digital Theatre is perfect for and it opens up theatre to the masses once more. Definitely dreamy.
The only thing I will say was that it took an age to download and the file itself is huge! Perhaps this is something that could be worked on?
So, lovely people at Digital Theatre; when are you expanding the musical theatre catalogue? Answers on the back of a postcard please.
Penned by Pitch xx