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The Deep Blue Sea
© Richard Hubert Smith

National Theatre Live: updated YouTube streaming schedule for free plays every Thursday

The penultimate play to air is ‘The Deep Blue Sea’ starring Helen McCrory and Tom Burke


One of the highlights of lockdown (not a phrase we thought we’d ever be saying, tbh) has to have been the weekly theatre dose administered by London’s National Theatre. The line-up of plays streamed for free via YouTube – a new one released each Thursday – has kept audiences at home on the edge of their sofas. And they’ve been pretty starry, too: James Corden, Gillian Anderson, Benedict Cumberbatch, Tamsin Greig and Tom Hiddleston have all already appeared on our on-screen stages. 

Alas, all good things (and lockdown) must come to an end, and the National Theatre is now entering the final throes of free streaming. We have just two instalments left. Airing from Thursday July 9 is ‘The Deep Blue Sea’ by Terence Rattigan, starring a ‘phenomenal’ Helen McCrory at its centre. McCrory plays Hester Collyer, a woman contemplating what next after a botched suicide attempt. We gave the show the full five stars when it came to the stage in 2016 and praised McCrory: ‘What is most striking about her performance is not her weakness but her strength, her almost fearsome calm and composure.’ 

With the greatest archive of cinema-quality recordings of stage plays of any theatre on the planet, it’s little surprise that the National Theatre has been doing such a great job entertaining us all. The NT Live programme was designed to beam productions from the NT into cinemas across the country, but there are, of course, no cinemas in operation at present. So the NT has switched to broadcasting via its YouTube channel.

National Theatre at Home launched on YouTube on April 2, and now, every Thursday (7pm BST/2pm EST) sees a new play released – free to watch for one week – along with bonus content including cast and creatives Q&As and post-stream talks.

There’s been a definite emphasis on good cheer for the line-up, which kicked off with Richard Bean’s beloved farce ‘One Man, Two Guvnors’, starring a pre-chatshow-days James Corden, and which drew more than 2.5 million viewers. But the final additions to the line-up show the NT’s power at tackling the topical, too. And the entire thing wraps up with a production of ‘Amadeus’ that we described as ‘overwhelming’ when it first hit the stage – the smash hit streaming season could only really go out with a bang. 

Here’s the full programme:

April 2 ‘One Man, Two Guvnors’ by Richard Bean, starring James Corden. Read our review.

April 9 ‘Jane Eyre’, adapted by Sally Cookson. Read our review

April 16 ‘Treasure Island’, adapted by Bryony Lavery. Read our review.

April 23 ‘Twelfth Night’ by William Shakespeare, starring Tamsin Greig. Read our review.

April 30 & May 1 ‘Frankenstein’ adapted by Danny Boyle, starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Jonny Lee Miller. Read our review.  

May 7 ‘Antony & Cleopatra’ by William Shakespeare, starring Ralph Fiennes. Read our review.

May 14 ‘Barber Shop Chronicles’ by Inua Ellams. Read our review.

May 21 ‘A Streetcar Named Desire’ by Tennessee Williams, starring Gillian Anderson. Read our review.

May 28 ‘This House’ by James Graham. Read our reveiw.

June 4 ‘Coriolanus’ by William Shakespeare, starring Tom Hiddleston. Read our review

June 11 ‘The Madness of George III’ by Alan Bennett, starring Mark Gatiss. 

June 18 ‘Small Island’ an adaptation of the novel by Andrea Levy. Read our review

June 25 ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ by William Shakespeare, starring Gwendoline Christie. Read our review.

July 2 ‘Les Blancs’ by Lorraine Hansberry. Read our review.

July 9 ‘The Deep Blue Sea’ by Terence Rattigan, starring Helen McCrory and Tom Burke. Read our review.

July 16 ‘Amadeus’ by Peter Shaffer, starring Lucian Msamati. Read our review

For more information on National Theatre at Home, click hereTo find out more about this week’s play which starts streaming on YouTube on Thu Jul 9, click here.

For other ways you can watch plays while London’s in lockdown, click here.

Find out when London’s theatres might open again.

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