Thursday, 31 December 2020
In January, You Stupid Darkness! imagined a world assailed by an invisible, unknowable enemy, where we couldn't leave the house without protective equipment. What will these crazy playwrights think of next? No really, tell me, I could do with the warning.
Tuesday, 29 December 2020
The Duchess of Malfi was briefly made available, I wasn't surprised when the Almeida offered a recording of their seasonal show to ticket-holders as an alternative. I say seasonal, but while the short preparation time led most theatres to dust off some version of A Christmas Carol, director Rebecca Frecknall, writer Chris Bush, songwriter Maimuna Memon (who also performs) and the cast were sent off to devise a more melancholy reflection on the season and the year leading up to it with Nine Lessons and Carols - stories for a long winter.
Saturday, 26 December 2020
British theatres' biggest annual earner, the Christmas pantomime, attempted a limited return in those areas that were allowed to, before everything got promptly shut down again (it's OK though, the Culture Secretary and Prince William had already been very publicly allowed to take their families to one, so it's not like anyone who matters was being excluded.) In what is hopefully a one-off attempt to make up for something people were missing out on elsewhere, the National Theatre were one of the venues putting on a panto, with an updated version of a Jude Christian and Cariad Lloyd script for Dick Whittington first seen at the Lyric Hammersmith two years ago. When this too was put on ice, they put Ned Bennett's new production up on YouTube for a few days over Christmas (available for free internationally, which raises the possibility of people all over the world watching and being baffled by the British concept of wholesome family entertainment consisting predominantly of dick jokes.)
Monday, 14 December 2020
Wednesday, 9 December 2020
"It's not like Pinter where you can more or less say what you like so long as you leave enough gaps."
In what I suspect will be a pretty short window of time to catch live theatre in London before we get bumped up a tier, a classic Pinter makes a surprisingly swift return to the stage - it's less than two years since The Dumb Waiter was in the West End, but Hampstead Theatre were keen to mark the 60th anniversary of a show that premiered there in its own debut season. Planned to run last spring as part of the theatre's 60-year retrospective season, it does of course also feature a bubble-friendly cast of just two, with Alec Newman as Ben and Shane Zaza as Gus, a pair of mobsters who've been holed up all day in a basement room waiting for the instruction to carry out a hit on an unknown target. But when instructions do come, via the titular miniature elevator, they're confusing and increasingly extravagant food orders, seemingly intended for a restaurant kitchen that's long since closed.
Friday, 4 December 2020
Be More Chill, which for Anderson in particular had been expected to be a star-making performance, got cut short by the first lockdown, and when they reunited for Luke Sheppard's revival of Rent it only lasted five performances before Lockdown 2: Emetic Boogaloo scuppered that as well. Intended to be a mix of socially distanced audiences with simultaneous live-streaming, with Manchester still barred from live performance even after lockdown lifted they've had to rejig the plan, and stream a recording of the final live performance of Jonathan Larson's iconic, none-more-nineties musical.