Originally planned as a six-edition run, the Royal Court’s Living Newspaper will actually be gaining a bonus seventh instalment with pieces written by writers aged 14-21. But Edition #6 is now live with its intention of exploring “the strange and contradictory relationship between a closed theatre building and the world outside; asking questions about why we gather together and who we might have lost when we do so again”.
There are some short, sharp stabs of real brilliance here. Stacey Gregg picking through the minefield that is talking about Northern Ireland whether in English, ISL or BSL; Rory Mullarkey raking theatre critics over the coals in the highly amusing This Play (Louisa Harland, Sule Rimi and Millicent Wong clearly having lots of fun); Amy Bethan Evans’ scabrously funny take on the agony aunt in Neurodiverge-Aunt, delivered beautifully by Cian Binchy.
Elsewhere (and altogether really), there’s a rather scattershot approach to the brief that works against any thematic cohesiveness really emerging across the pieces. For me, Tim Crouch’s stream-of-consciousness-ish Horoscopes didn’t really do it for me, Rose Lewenstein’s Life Is Difficult and Then You Die hits the requisite darkly comic note but shorts like Rachael Young’s Pixels and Joe Ward Munrow’s Live News feel barely formed, too fleeting and ephemeral to really register.
And ranging from the tetchy family relationships of Molly Davies’ Adventure Before Dementia to Kit Withington’s rather rose-tinted elegy to the pub in Our Moon Under Water to the dense prose of Belarusian Pavel Pryazhko’s Ribbons, translated here by Sasha Dugdale and presented as a text piece), I didn’t quite get the sense of cumulative force that have made previous editions so impactful.
Living Newspaper #6 is streaming via the Royal Court until 2 May 2021.