IS STAGE drama as exciting when you see it as ‘live screening’, beamed from London or Stratford, as it is when the actors are giving their all a few feet in front of you? Certainly it’s a distinctive theatrical experience, writes Martin Vander Weyer, and after ten years since the format was first launched, it’s still unfamiliar to many theatre-lovers.

But after memorable recent screenings at Helmsley Arts Centre, I’d say it can be every bit as good as the real flesh-and-blood. Arthur Miller’s All My Sons, for example — screened from the Old Vic, starring the American film actor Bill Pullman and Sally Field — was a compelling evening’s entertainment, helped by respectful camerawork that did not try for fancy angles and close-ups but just let the actors tell Miller’s harrowing tale of a family torn apart by wartime secrets.

And there are some great opportunities coming up this summer to decide whether you like the live screening format, starting with the National Theatre’s epic production of The Lehman Trilogy by Stefano Massini on Thursday, July 25 at 7pm. Directed by Sam Mendes, this is the biography of the Wall Street bank that went bust in 2008 and nearly brought the financial world crashing down around it. The actors play three generations of the German immigrant Lehman family over a timespan of 163 years in what the Daily Telegraph called ‘an extraordinary theatrical experience’. And all for only £15 — compared to around £100 a ticket for the same show in London’s West End.

Next, on Wednesday, July 31,at 7pm, we present William Shakespeare’s dark comedy Measure for Measure, from the Royal Shakespeare Company. Set in Vienna in an era of loose morals, it’s a richly textured tale in which a novice nun, Isabella, is compromised by a corrupt official, Angelo, who offers to save her brother Claudio from execution in return for sex. She refuses but — thanks largely to the wisdom of the ruling Duke, who spends much of the action disguised as a friar — mercy and virtue prevail in the end. if you’ve never experienced the special energy with which the RSC brings Shakespeare’s work to life, it’s one not to miss.

Looking further ahead to Thursday, September 26 at 7pm, we’re offering a National Theatre Live Encore of Richard Bean’s hilarious One Man, Two Guv’nors, with an award-winning performance by James Corden in the leading role. All in the comfort of our Helmsley auditorium: tickets are available from the Box Office 01439 771700 or online at