It’s an irony that won’t be lost on artistic director Nicholas Hytner: Two of the National Theater’s current smash hits aren’t actually playing in any of his three auditoriums.
“War Horse” continues to do boffo biz in its West End transfer (recently extended through February) while, thus far, upward of 45,000 people in moviehouses worldwide have seen the live recording of his own production of “Phedre,” starring Helen Mirren.
The “NT Live” screenings continue in October with “All’s Well That Ends Well” and, on Jan. 30, “Nation,” a new play adapted by Mark Ravenhill from the cult novel by Terry Pratchett. The last of the series will be Hytner’s own forthcoming production of “The Habit of Art,” his first collaboration with Alan Bennett since “The History Boys.”
Hytner is keeping extremely tight-lipped about the show, which opens mid-November. All he will say is that it springs from the creative relationship between poet W.H. Auden (Michael Gambon) and composer Benjamin Britten (Alex Jennings). Designed by Bob Crowley, it co-stars Frances de la Tour.
His other season highlights include David Hare’s new play, “The Power of Yes,” about the 2008 world financial crisis, directed by Angus Jackson and opening Oct. 6; Deborah Warner directs Fiona Shaw in “Mother Courage,” translated by Tony Kushner; and Katie Mitchell will direct “The Discontented,” Martin Crimp’s new version of a little-known 1929 play by Austrian writer Ferdinand Brucker.
Most surprisingly of all, Mitchell, known for the high seriousness of her experimental work, will also helm a special production for very young audiences at Christmas. Her chosen text? Dr Seuss’ “The Cat in the Hat.”