National Theatre Live presents The Motive and the Cue

Opposing stars collide in a love letter to theatre
Saturday 20th April 7:30

Mark Gatiss (Sherlock) and Johnny Flynn (Emma) feature in this fierce and funny new play which brings Richard Burton and John Gielgud’s infamous Hamlet rehearsals to the big screen.
But as rehearsals progress, two ages of theatre collide and the collaboration between actor and director soon threatens to unravel.

Academy Award-winner Sam Mendes (Skyfall) directs Jack Thorne’s new play, with Tuppence Middleton (Downton Abbey) starring as Hollywood starlet Elizabeth Taylor in the supporting cast. Filmed live from the National Theatre in London.

It’s New York, 1964 and Richard Burton is at the peak of his career. Having recently starred in Cleopatra with his now wife Elizabeth Taylor, Burton is cast in the latest reincarnation of Hamlet, directed by notable stage and screen actor John Gielgud. With Gielgud turning his career to theatre direction, his stardom has begun to wane.

As a play that is performed on theatres year after year, Gielgud’s goal is to make a Hamlet that has never been seen before – he will do this by performing the play as though it is still in rehearsal, with casual dress and ‘unfinished’ lines.

As Burton disregards the modern and wants to hold onto the classic, he increasingly shows up to rehearsals drunk and aggressive, yet Gielgud disregards this.

Tensions run between Burton and Gielgud throughout as their egos battle one another. This fraction causes the rest of the cast to become more tense and unhappy with the rehearsals, yet the starlet Taylor can be seen to host parties and events to smoothen these emotions, whilst also cure her own boredom as she is trapped alone in the pair’s hotel room.

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