6 new West End hits to stream - including Frankenstein and David Walliams’ Midnight Gang

Benedict Cumberbatch plays both the Monster and its creator Victor Frankenstein in the National Thea

Benedict Cumberbatch plays both the Monster and its creator Victor Frankenstein in the National Theatre's production currently available for home screening Photo: BBC/PA - Credit: PA Archive/PA Images

Virtual theatregoing has become a popular pastime during lockdown with some theatre streams reaching TV-sized audiences. Here is a round-up of the latest attractions to be added to our ‘at home’ theatre season


When: Daily until May 8

Where: National Theatre YouTube channel

Danny Boyle’s audacious re-telling of Mary Shelley’s horror classic Frankenstein at the National Theatre had audiences providing nightly standing ovations and critics struggling to find sufficient superlatives to do justice to the wit, imagination and performances which brought this 19th century tale back to life for a 21st century audience.

Audiences were also thrilled by the prospect of the play’s stars Benedict Cumberbatch and Jonny Lee Miller switching roles as The Monster and its creator Victor Frankenstein. For those who saw both versions of the play, it demonstrated how casting brings different flavours and draws out different interpretations from the same material.

The play had plenty of spectacle, but it also had heart and easily forged an emotional connection with the audience. Now the National Theatre is making both versions available, free of charge, for a week. Revel in a classic story being retold by two great actors at the height of their powers.

Cirque du Soleil 60 Minute Specials

Cirque du Soleil is making 60 minute shows available online Photo: Cirque du Soleil

Cirque du Soleil is making 60 minute shows available online Photo: Cirque du Soleil - Credit: Newmarket Holidays

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When: live stream every Friday at 8pm and daily access to archive

Where: Cirque du Soleil YouTube channel

Cirque du Soleil is something special. Is it circus, is it theatre, is it dance, is it performance art? It’s all of those things with added spectacle thrown in for good measure. Now the Montreal-based arts company has launched a YouTube channel which provides you free front row seats to an array of different shows.

In addition to the performances there are a range of different behind the scenes videos which look at the hard work and training that goes into putting together a Cirque du Soleil show as well a fascinating ‘Day in the Life’ series dedicated to various team members and if you fancy pitting your fitness levels against those of the professional performers then a series of structured ‘workout’ sessions.

Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber with Elaine Paige (AP Photo/MAX NASH)who performed at a tribute concert for

Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber with Elaine Paige (AP Photo/MAX NASH)who performed at a tribute concert for the composer - Credit: AP

There’s a new show released every Friday which then becomes available to view at your leisure in the Cirque du Soleil YouTube archive.

RSC on the BBC

When: Daily

Where: BBC i-player

The Royal Shakespeare Company have teamed up with the BBC to screen six plays from their recent repertoire. The plays will all be screened on BBC 4 over the spring and summer but for those who don’t want to wait then they are available to be downloaded now from BBC i-player.

The plays on offer are: Polly Findlay’s 2018 production of Macbeth with Christopher Eccleston and Niamh Cusack; Hamlet, directed by Simon Godwin with Paapa Essiedu; Romeo and Juliet directed by the RSC’s deputy artistic director Erica Whyman and bringing a young cast to the stage for this 2018 production; Christopher Luscombe directs Michelle Terry and Edward Bennett as Beatrice and Benedick in this acclaimed production of Much Ado About Nothing which moves the action to the autumn of 1918; Othello with Hugh Quarshie and Lucian Msamati and The Merchant of Venice directed by Polly Findlay with Makram J. Khoury as Shylock, Patsy Ferran as Portia and Jamie Ballard as Antonio.

The Globe at the BBC

When: Daily

Where: BBC i-player

The Globe have a number of educational resources available on their own paid-for streaming platform but have struck a deal with the BBC to offer two recent plays free of charge.

The first is The Tempest, starring Roger Allam, Jessie Buckley and Colin Morgan, will be available on the streaming platform for three months, as will Emma Rice’s critically acclaimed re-working of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

Jeremy Herrin’s production of Shakespeare’s Tempest first premiered in 2014 while Rice’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream was her inaugural production as artistic director back in 2016. Both productions attracted five star reviews.

A Tribute to Andrew Lloyd Webber

When: Friday May 1 at 7pm then available for 48 hours

Where: Andrew Lloyd Webber’s YouTube channel

When the theatre world wants to pay tribute to someone, they do it in style. In 1998 that meant hiring the Royal Albert Hall and inviting along such star names as Antonio Banderas, Elaine Page, Donny Osmond, the cast of Cats, Sarah Brightman, Michael Ball, Glenn Close and Kiri Te Kanawa to perform extracts from such hit shows as Starlight Express, Evita, Cats, Phantom of the Opera, Jesus Christ Superstar.

The Midnight Gang

When: Daily

Where: Chichester Festival Theatre website

Chichester Festival Theatre’s musical production of David Walliams’ The Midnight Gang will be available from April 30 for a month. Adapted by Bryony Lavery, with music and lyrics by Joe Stilgoe, the show opened in the autumn of 2018. The cast included Jennie Dale, Matthew Cavendish, Marilyn Cutts, Dickon Gough, Tim Mahendran and Lucy Vandi.

This inventive tale of fun, friendship and the importance of kindness, about a gang of children who each night escape from their hospital beds to make their dreams come true, is adapted from David Walliams’s biggest-selling children’s book of 2016.

Then from May 21, Anna Ledwich’s adaptation of Beauty and the Beast (with music and lyrics by Richard Taylor) will also be available for a month. The show originally ran in Chichester in 2017.

Dale Rooks, who also worked on the adaptation of The Butterfly Lion and the award-winning Running Wild, directs a cast of 72 young people in a visually spectacular show.

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