Libby Purves

Lifting the Curtain

Balancing Acts: Behind the Scenes at the National Theatre

By

Jonathan Cape 314pp £20 order from our bookshop

Few of the National Theatre’s leaders have made such an impact as Nicholas Hytner, its artistic director from 2003 to 2015. His insistence on aiming for capacity audiences and sponsorship to make tickets cheaper was one revolution. Others – also to the credit of the National Theatre’s chief executive, Nick Starr – were NT Live, which saw the live broadcast of plays in cinemas, and transfers and tours making serious money. Yet in many ways Hytner is a traditional producer-director: for all his scholarship, he is a showman with a taste for big casts and big stages, eschewing black-box preciousness and admitting at times to ‘an inner voice that says “booooring!”’ In an early, daringly raunchy staging of Jerry Springer: The Opera, he approvingly cited the compere’s stamping introduction: ‘Have yourself a good time!’

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • From the Archive: Martyn Bedford on Ian McEwan's 'Atonement' ,
    • In 'Silenced Voices' reports the ongoing story of the human rights lawyer, Nasrin Sotoudeh, who has been… ,
    • The mystery of Jack the Ripper's identity has long been agonised over. But what do we know about his victims?… ,
    • A piece of Literary Review history from way back in 1983: John Haffenden talks to the great Iris Murdoch. ,
    • Britain’s only travelling lit fest, the Garden Museum Literary Festival is heading to Houghton Hall, Norfolk, for a… ,
    • 'The 19th-century German sage is not my idea of a pleasant travel companion' goes hiking with Friedr… ,
    • If you want ideas about what to read next, sign up to our free email newsletter, and get book reviews, archive mate… ,