The lockdown experience was, of course, an infinitely lonely and disturbing one for many and involved living life rather differently. It was also a time for making discoveries about oneself and that is one of the key themes running through Talking Hands, five short pieces (average playing time, 20 minutes) from Deafinitley Theatre.
‘Will ring more than a few bells’: Interdimensional Phishing Scam/Penumbra – Chronic Insanity (Online review)
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.
‘Definitely an ensemble piece’: BEDROOM FARCE – BBC Sounds (Online review)
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.
‘The social divide is front & centre’: A CHRISTMAS CAROL: A GHOST STORY – BBC iPlayer (Online Show)
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.
‘Excellent characterisation’: GREY MAN – Online Review
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.
’An impression of these literary figures at the height of their powers’: STUMPED – Original Theatre (Online show)
Harold Pinter and Samuel Beckett meet in a cricket pavilion and end up as trapped as some of the characters in their plays
‘Comic invented history which entertains & informs’: Three Women & Shakespeare’s Will / Mrs Pack (Online Show)
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.
‘Out of the ordinary’: ODDS ON – Touring (Online Show)
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.
‘Know us by our courage, not by our fear’: VOICES FROM UKRAINE – Finborough Theatre (Online Show)
The second pair of plays from #FinboroughFrontier’s quartet of pieces #VoicesFromUkraine reflecting on the situation in the war torn nation is now available. They join the first couple to form a suite of programmes focusing on life in the country as the inhabitants are invaded by a hostile force and their response to the situation.
‘There’s enough here to keep the listener enthralled’: THE MACHINE STOPS (Online Show)
In The Machine Stops E. M. Forster unusually abandons his general milieu of the genteel classes and takes a look at a supposed future – the theme of connection, however, is still very much in evidence as he examines a world that is literally falling apart.
‘A fine octet of actors work well as an ensemble’: INTO BATTLE (Online review)
Remembrance Day seemed a perfect moment to review a production set just before and during the First World War, Hugh Salmon’s finely rendered Into Battle.
‘Sombre mood, visual distortions, intense emotions’: THE HAIRY APE — Online
I remember a student I was once trying to get to read more saying “What’s the point, there are just too many books”. Perhaps I’m beginning to have the same reaction to digital theatre – there’s so much more of it out there than I had ever anticipated and although I think I can claim I’ve covered a fair amount of ground there is still plenty to get to grips with.
‘Deals with some important issues’: MY BOY DANNY (Online review)
New online theatre material keeps popping up all the time – or at least it eventually comes to my attention which amounts to much the same thing; this latest one did so by a somewhat circuitous route. My Boy Danny played at this year’s recent Camden Fringe as an online stream, but I managed to muddle the dates and therefore missed it.
‘The Greek legend is more or less intact’: ORPHEUS (Online review)
The Greek myths have endured across the centuries partly because they are timeless stories that can be endlessly updated and reinvented.
‘There’s a musical theatre dream team’: CLOSER THAN EVER – Broadway HD (Online review)
As it’s a recorded stream, you’re at liberty to choose your own encore moments and replay any numbers which particularly take your fancy – and there are bound to be several of those.*
‘Innovative & intriguing piece of theatre making’: CAN I LIVE – Complicité (Online review)
The twin themes of social justice and climate activism are explored in this piece from Fehinti Balogun/Complicité.
‘Just don’t expect your journey to be a comfortable one’: THE CONTAINER – Young Vic / Digital Theatre (Online review)
Site specific theatre hasn’t been easy over the last eighteen months – in fact you can take out the first two words of that statement. It’s been tricky enough getting regular venues open, let alone some of the more esoteric settings which were used before you know what kicked off. A production that it would probably be almost impossible to revive now is Clare Bayley’s The Container which happened at the Young Vic in 2009. Set in an actual shipping container near to the theatre it allowed for just 28 audience members each time crammed onto uncomfortable benches around the perimeter with a narrow central strip for the 6 performers to use. 34 bodies in close proximity packed into a metal box with no sense of social distancing and not a mask to be seen; even Covid deniers might baulk.
‘A vivid snapshot’: THE COVID-19 TRILOGY (Online review)
It was just about a month ago that I observed that considering the dominant story of all our lives for the last 18 months has been the pandemic, there haven’t really been all that many direct responses to it in the form of theatre pieces. A new addition to the Scenesaver platform looks to rectify that particular shortfall with three monologues about individual experiences and response. Called starkly The Covid-19 Trilogy it comes from Elysium Theatre Company which is based in Durham. During the pandemic they released two sets of five monologues and the three pieces in this set are taken from these. Presumably they are a “best of” collection to whet the appetite; the rest are available on the company’s You Tube channel
‘Gentle, life-affirming production’: Around The World In 80 Days – Theatre Royal, Bury St Edmunds (Online review)
Around The World In 80 Days is best known for the iconic 1956 David Niven film rather than the original novel by the prolific French writer Jules Verne; this version seeks to restore the original storyline to the centre of the narrative but does so with one playful eye on the theatrical possibilities where much is left to the audience’s imagination.
‘Proves to be as entertaining as it can be’: SYD – Edinburgh Fringe (Online review)
Arthur Smith pays homage to his (extra) ordinary Dad in Syd which premiered at 2018’s Fringe and is now an online show recorded at Falmouth and being streamed via the Pleasance.