BWW DVD Reviews: THEATRELAND is an Interesting Look Behind the Curtain
In 2009, Theatre Royal Haymarket, one of London's premier West End playhouses, mounted what is heralded as the most successful production ever of Samuel Beckett's WAITING FOR GODOT. The play starred Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart and ran for 172 sold-out performances. It was followed by the first-ever staged adaptation of Truman Capote's BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY'S. Recently, a fascinating 8-episode documentary showcasing the behind-the-scenes work that went into these landmark productions called THEATRELAND was released to DVD. The 2 disc set allows audiences to peek behind the curtain and see the fun and a touch of the drama that occurs in the daily world of professional theatre.
Before I was writing for BroadwayWorld, I spent some time working in the front of house at Houston's Hobby Center for the Performing Arts, and one of my favorite aspects of the documentary was how it followed an usher as she began work at Theatre Royal Haymarket and what it was like having a professional relationship with everyone involved in the productions.
Additionally, the 8-episodes allow viewers to meet the stars, artistic director, managers, stagehands, and carpenters. This revealing and interesting documentary showcases many of the mundane elements that go into getting a show off the ground. As a side note, I hesitate to use the word "mundane," as the documentarians have guaranteed that the viewing experience is anything but.
For me, another highlight in the series is how it exposes audiences to theatre folklore. For example, the fourth episode, "Is There a Spectre in the House?," exposes theatre lore surrounding haunting and ghosts. It even includes footage of members of the cast and crew ghost hunting in the pitch dark at Theatre Royal Haymarket.
The interesting behind-the-curtain documentary THEATRELAND was filmed over six months, and at the end of the 8th episode, I found myself wishing there was more to see. The special features on the set are sparse, and I think deleted scenes would have been a neat feature to include. Maybe, there will be a sequel to THEATRELAND?
Running Time: Approximately 201 minutes.