The flexible and modular nature of the Royal Court’s Living Newspaper series means that it is sufficiently adaptable to cope with ever-changing lockdown restrictions. Previous editions had the option of being consumed either digitally or in-person at Sloane Square but this third edition is online only.
As a multi-authored, rapid-response foray into theatre-making, structured loosely around the section of a newspaper, it possesses an up-to-the-minute urgency that is rarely captured seen onstage. Pithy soundbites from Boris Johnson are torn apart (in the corking Crocus of Hope that forms the first page), the hollowness of Emily in Paris is exposed, and there’s variety in the vitriol too.
Rebecca Prichard’s She Blows Ltd benefits from the longest running time to make you think twice about how quickly we’ll all run to hairdressers when the moment comes. But even shorter pieces like Anupama Chandrasekhar’s Where Things Go To Die and Karen Laws’ Levelling Up find poetic and punchy resonance respectively through fine performances from Susan Brown and Caleb Obediah.
And as with many a multi-part newspaper, there are sections that won’t do it for you quite as much (I never read the books bit in the old Saturday Guardian). The deliberately rough edges of some pieces can’t disguise their need for further development in some cases but the speed with which the next one comes along always means there’s little time to linger on that.
Living Newspaper #3 is streaming via the Royal Court until 11 April 2021.