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National Theatre Screenings at the Merlin

It’s not even a year since the Merlin Theatre began screening live performances from the National and other major theatres, but already these shows are a vital part of the programme.

This coming season brings works by playwrights from Shaw and Shakespeare to Miller, Stoppard and Hare, plus performances by world class actors. Not all shows are listed in the current Merlin brochure, as the theatre is often offered additional showings from time to time, so it is well worth checking the website.

Thursday 12th March brings ‘Behind the Beautiful Forevers’, a new work by David Hare adapted from the uncompromising account of life in the Mumbai slums written by Pulitzer-Prize winning journalist, Katherine Boo. The play, which stars TV’s Meera Syal, has a running time of 180 minutes and is recommended for ages 15 plus.

Not NTL this time, but definitely not to be missed, are showings of Manchester Royal Exchange Theatre’s production of Hamlet, with a live screening on Monday 23rd March, followed by an encore performance on Thursday 2nd April. Maxine Peake takes the title role in a stripped back, fresh and fast-paced version which is three hours 20 minutes with interval.

The National Theatre returns on Thursday 26th March with another powerful Arthur Miller tragedy, ‘A View from the Bridge’. This is a dark and passionate tale set in Brooklyn which confronts the American dream, starring Mark Strong and directed by Ivo Van Howe. it runs for 150 minutes with no interval and is suitable for age 12 plus.

Tom Stoppard’s new play, ‘The Hard Problem’ screens live from the National on Thursday 16th April, with Shaw’s ‘Man and Superman’, starring Ralph Fiennes, on Thursday 14th May. Later in the year, on Thursday 16th July, Chiwetel Ejiofor, star of ‘Twelve Years a Slave’, leads in an adaptation of the medieval morality play ‘Everyman’ by Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy.

Tickets for all live screenings cost £15 (£10 concessions) and shows start at 7.00pm. Visit or call 01373 465949. Pre-show suppers can also be booked for all the above dates by contacting Keren Hayden at or phoning 07968 753632.