Birmingham’s Essential Entertainment Guide
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Located on Wharfside within Mailbox Birmingham is one of twenty-five Everyman Cinema sites. City wide, there are a large number of cinemas consisting of predominantly large complexes such as Cineworld, Odeon or Vue. Everyman is smaller-scale boasting only three screens, but what sets it apart is their food/drink service and the luxurious seating inside the screens, allowing you to enjoy your film in a heightened level of comfort.
Along with showing the newest blockbusters, Everyman also screens event cinema such as National Theatre Live, bringing the best of British theatre to audiences worldwide. Last night saw the West End production of Joseph L Mankiewicz’s All About Eve (starring Gillian Anderson and Lily James) broadcast live to the cinema and I was happy to be in attendance.
The pricing of tickets to attend a film at Everyman is slightly more than the norm, however this is justified in the overall experience that the venue offers. We arrived approximately one hour before the screening was due to start and were greeted promptly by a very friendly member of staff.
We took a seat in the classy lounge/bar area in the foyer. Upon browsing the food and drink menu, we were drawn to the wittily named ‘Spielburgers’ and opted for the house burger with truffle fries and chicken burger with sweet potato fries; washed down with an Everyman G&T.
The food was served fairly swiftly and you could immediately tell that it had been cooked fresh. The chicken burger had a spice rub on it but the delicious house sauce overpowered this. The truffle fries were stunning but the sweet potato fries could have been crispier as a personal preference. At £11 per burger, this was probably teetering on the top end of what I would have been happy to pay; based on the meal I received. Small details such as the sauces being served in cardboard pots immediately cheapened the meal and you wouldn’t expect this in such an opulent setting. However, this could be easily rectified.
The signature sofa seating complete with cushions, side tables and footrests within the screens are the venue’s greatest selling point. Prior to the broadcast, staff are in and out delivering food and drink to people already in their seats. This service ceases when the broadcast begins so as not to disturb other viewers. Also, I wouldn’t risk eating a burger in the dark – particularly on the plush upholstery! The gourmet snacks offered in rustle-free packing are more than acceptable though; including cashew nuts, wasabi peas and honeycomb bites.
The screen was packed out for last night’s NT Live screening, proving that event cinema is as popular as it was when the fantastic initiative was launched a decade ago. A stage show on screen is never going to compete with seeing it live but at a fraction of the cost, it is a great alternative. Also, the professional filming allows you to appreciate the production in a way that you might not be able to, watching from the theatre’s balcony level.
Ivo Van Hove’s direction and the unusual inside-out set design by Jan Versweyveld are captured exquisitely. In addition to a large living area, there are also kitchen and bathroom spaces somewhat shielded from the audience in live view, but are instead captured by roaming camera operators. There is no escape for the actors and this additional filming adds to the characters’ vulnerabilities.
It’s interesting because two hours straight through with no interval seemed a fairly long time but you wouldn’t think this of a two-hour film. A nice treat upon exiting the screen was being given a miniature Green and Blacks chocolate – a lovely touch that ends the exclusive night out appropriately.
Everyman makes going to the cinema more of an occasion and I look forward to returning.
**** Four stars
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