Ever since Covid’s early days pioneering company Threedumb Theatre has developed and sustained the idea of the one shot livestream; this is unedited and raw but captures much of the spontaneity and edge which comes with live performance. Their latest, Notre Dame, is probably their most ambitious.
Small Truth Theatre has commissioned a series of micro plays recorded as part of its Digital Caravan space (their original mini theatre on wheels being decommissioned because of the need for social distancing). About a month ago they put out a new set of material under the umbrella title of Our Voices consisting of four short pieces inspired by interacting with young people in and around the company’s north Kensington home.
It’s been an absolute age (well, about a year anyway) since I visited those innovative people at Chronic Insanity. They are well known for pushing boundaries of the possible in both live and digital situations. And that’s not to mention the sheer amount of work they produce; the aim is 12 pieces of drama every year.
One of Alan Ayckbourn’s biggest ever successes, 1975’s Bedroom Farce, has only just made the transition in an entertaining production from Martin Jarvis and Rosalind Ayres which premiered in two parts across New Year’s Eve/Day. It is now available via BBC Sounds.
If you want to see a couple of young actors bringing truth and sincerity to a well structured piece of dialogue and elevate it towards the stars which provide a backdrop to this piece, then head for the Finborough for Salt-Water Moon.
The War Of The Worlds: The Immersive Experience from experts in the field Layered Reality takes H.G. Wells’ famous novel, adds a heavy layer of input from the famous 1978 concept album masterminded by Jeff Wayne and has its audiences (in groups of no more than a dozen) moving through 24 separate scenes in the remnants of an old Metal Exchange in the heart of London’s financial district.
What is certain is that if you want an account that’s faithful to the spirit (sorry!) of the original but doesn’t let proceedings drag on (it comes in at under two hours without missing much out) then Christmas Carol: A Ghost Story is certainly worth your attention.
It’s that time of year when days get shorter, nights get longer and tale telling revolves around the supernatural. Just a couple of days ago the last thing I saw on stage, Here, was (partly) a modern day take on the ghost story. Now for good measure comes Grey Man, a piece of digital theatre written by Lulu Raczka, which investigates similar spooky territory. The piece has been subtitled “A Stage And Screen Experiment” which, as it turns out, is exactly what it is.
When individual members of a family are facing a variety of problems, can looking back at their collective past help to resolve matters or does that simply serve to make things worse? This is the premise behind Here by debut playwright Clive Judd, the 2022 winner of the Papatango Prize for new writing currently in production on Southwark Playhouse’s main stage
Philip Ridley’s The Poltergeist is an irresistibly restless creation which emulates the troublesome violent spirit conjured up by the title. The firework cracking solo piece has had a checkered history. It was first produced at Southwark Playhouse where its run was stymied by Covid lockdown but played out in a deserted auditorium to broadcasting cameras for a criminally brief three performances; it blew away the competition to scoop the Off West End OnComm award for a live streamed piece. It then became an on demand video which has haunted the recesses of the internet ever since and been spoken of with increasing admiration for those of us who saw its glorious beginnings.
Darkfield promoted site specific theatre even when we couldn’t actually go anywhere. Their neat answer was to get you using spaces in your own home or in permitted public places such as a park bench. Now they’ve gone back to an idea which they used prior to the great lockdown with a trio of short pieces taking place in converted shipping containers currently located in Canary Wharf in London’s Docklands.
Harold Pinter and Samuel Beckett meet in a cricket pavilion and end up as trapped as some of the characters in their plays
September 2020 and the pandemic was quietly raging. So too was Maureen Lipman in Hope Mill Theatre’s online production of Martin Sherman’s intense monologue Rose; her performance was routinely recognised as a tour de force. The piece won many plaudits including an Off West End Offie and featured as one of my 20 For 2020. Since then it has been restreamed more than once and also appeared on Sky Arts – indeed it is still available on their catch up channel Now TV. But for the real undisputed deal, and if you’re near enough, head to the Park Theatre in Islington where the production is playing until mid-October.
Three Women & Shakespeare’s Will comes from the pen of Joan Greening who has made something of a speciality of writing about historical figures connected to the arts, albeit in imaginary settings/situations. Thus in recent years she has given us the relationship dynamics of three literary sisters in At Home With The Brontës and a trio of Rosetti’s Women and their influence on the titular painter.
So, it was with a sense of keen anticipation that I approached Dante Or Die’s latest piece entitled Odds On which is currently on a “digital tour”. It’s a piece about the world of online gambling and its effects on an individual who gets sucked into a vortex and only narrowly avoids disaster. Having revelled in their earlier piece, and noting that Tim Crouch was on board as the project’s dramaturgist, I expected it to be out of the ordinary – and it was.
A real life adventure told with wit, flair and some stunning movement sequences
It’s third time lucky for Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre and 101 Dalmatians which is billed as a new musical. Given that it should have premiered two years ago – and then one year ago (thanks, Covid) – that claim is slightly dubious but as it hasn’t actually graced the stage before I guess the assertion still holds.
Ambreen Razia’s play Favour looks into the lives of a trio of women from the same family but of rather different generations. It does so with a vigour that is at times quite intoxicating and although it is 95 minutes straight through, the time fairly flies by.
The Edinburgh Festival is not far away now and, as often happens at this time of year, there are a number of shows playing themselves in before transferring in a northerly direction for their Fringe run. One which caught my eye is Careless which warmed up at The Hen And Chickens in Islington. Conceived and written in lockdown by young actors Emma François and Eva Tritschler, collectively known as Written Off Theatre, it has already enjoyed success at both The Lion and Unicorn and Hope Theatres.
August Strindberg’s The Dance Of Death from 1900 has been credited with prefiguring the works of Beckett, Ionesco, Pinter and most notably provided a template for Edward Albee’s Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Woolf? However, in its latest incarnation at the Arcola in Hackney, which is the culmination of a tour started in May, I was forcibly reminded of the dynamic evoked by Noel Coward’s Private Lives – but with far fewer laughs.