Week Three of Lockdown. Are we all climbing the walls yet?
For me it’s not so much being stuck in doors as not being able to go out to the live shows or music gigs.
However, although it’s true we are all on lock down and the theatres are shut up – there is no reason to live in a cultural desert. Many professional shows and musicals are now being streamed on line – most for free –some for a very small remuneration – to keep our theatre appetites topped up.
And the good thing is that ordinarily you may not have been able to afford these shows if they were only available in London – or you may have missed them first time round. So now is your chance to enjoy some of the best British Theatreland has to offer.
Be warned however – some are available for a very limited period – so watch the dates.
NATIONAL THEATRE AT HOME
Let’s start with the National Theatre – who are premiering a new show every Thursday which will then be available for a week Last night was an incomparable version of Jane Eyre.
Next week will be Treasure Island
The classic story of the trailblazing Jane is as inspiring as ever. This bold and dynamic production uncovers one woman’s fight for freedom and fulfilment on her own terms.
Jane Eyre’s spirited heroine faces life’s obstacles head-on, surviving poverty, injustice and the discovery of bitter betrayal before taking the ultimate decision to follow her heart.
This innovative reimagining of Charlotte Brontë’s masterpiece is a collaboration between the National Theatre and Bristol Old Vic and is directed by Sally Cookson.
Available here till 16th April
ANDREW LLOYD WEBBER – THE SHOWS MUST GO ON
Andrew Lloyd Webber will be streaming his musicals for free online every Friday at 7pm – but these are only available for 48hrs. Tonight is:
JESUS CHRIST SUPPERSTAR
With Tim Minchin, Melanie C and Chris Moyles,
While free, the channel is encouraging viewers to donate to a variety of charities – Acting for Others, Broadway Cares and Actors Benevolent Fund.
The show can be found here:
BBC CULTURE IN QUARENTINE
The BBC has announced further programming for its “Culture in Quarantine” scheme to run while arts venues are locked down.
The company will broadcast six of the RSC’s recent productions on BBC Four and BBC iPlayer:
Macbeth with Christopher Eccleston and Niamh Cusack
Othello with Hugh Quarshie in the title role and Lucian Msamati as Iago
Romeo and Juliet with Bally Gill as Romeo and Karen Fishwick as Juliet
The Merchant of Venice with Makram J Khoury as Shylock
Much Ado About Nothing with Edward Bennett as Benedick and Michelle Terry as Beatrice
Hamlet with Paapa Essiedu in the title role
And there will be other nuggets of delight
Emma Rice’s critically-acclaimed co-production of Angela Carter’s Wise Children with The Old Vic, Belgrade Theatre Coventry, Oxford Playhouse and York Theatre Royal, is now available to stream on BBC iPlayer for 3 months. It will also air on BBC 4 in May 2020 – date to be announced.
A big, bawdy tangle of theatrical joy and heartbreak, Wise Children is a celebration of show business, family, forgiveness and hope. Expect show girls and Shakespeare, sex and scandal, music, mischief and mistaken identity – and butterflies by the thousand.
CHICHESTER FESTIVAL – FLOWERS FOR MRS HARRIS
Directed by Daniel Evans, it captures the glowing humanity of the novella by Paul Gallico on which it is based. The production began in Sheffield, where it won three UK Theatre Awards including Best Musical.
Richard Taylor is a composer and lyricist for stage, opera and television, whose work includes Beauty and the Beast (CFYT 2017) and The Go-Between (West End). Rachel Wagstaff adapted Sebastian Faulks’s novel Birdsong for the West End.
Ada Harris spends her days dusting, darning, polishing and scrubbing. But her first glimpse of a ravishing Christian Dior dress sets her off on a journey that will change her life forever…
From the cobbled streets of post-war London to the shimmering avenues of Paris, Ada transforms the lives of everyone she meets along the way; but can she let go of the past and finally allow her own life to blossom?
Available here till 8th May https://www.cft.org.uk/flowers-for-mrs-harris-broadcast
COLCHESTER MERCURY THEATRE – CINDERELLA
The Colchester Mercury Theatre are making last year’s panto available from Sat 11th – Sunday 19th April. Suitable for all the family
Stream it here : https://www.mercurytheatre.co.uk/cinderella-online/
IMPORTANCE OF BEING ERNEST
Curve Leicester and Birmingham Rep’s hit production of The Importance of Being Earnest is available from now until April 12th
Starring Cathy Tyson, Sharan Phull, Edward Franklin, Fela Lufadeju, Angela Clerkin, Dominic Gately, Darren Bennett and Martha Mackintosh, the show first ran in Birmingham in the autumn of 2016 before transferring to Leicester. It was given a four-star write-up from WhatsOnStage’s Diane Parkes, who described it as “lively, fun and hugely amusing.”
Oscar Wilde’s comedy follows two bachelors who hope to marry society’s most eligible ladies, but instead get caught up in a web of mistaken identities. The piece is directed by Curve’s artistic director Nikolai Foster. https://www.curveonline.co.uk/news/watch-our-archive-recording-of-the-importance-of-being-earnest/
While free, the venue is encouraging audiences to support their fundraising efforts with a donation during venue closures.
THE GLOBE – HAMLET
The venue will release 40 free titles over the next month, with six mainstage shows accompanied by 34 that were created as part of the venue’s epic “Globe to Globe” series of international performances. A proper treat! Find out more here.
They start with Hamlet starring artistic director Michelle Terry (2018) on 6th April followed on a two week cycle by: Romeo and Juliet with Ellie Kendrick and Adetomiwa Edun (2009), A Midsummer Night’s Dream with Michelle Terry (2013), The Winter’s Tale with Annette Badland (2018), The Two Noble Kinsmen with Brian Dick (2018) and The Merry Wives of Windsor (2019) with Bryony Hannah. Find Hamlet here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cdPqu598m68
WINTERS TALE – CHEEK BY JOWL
This iconic theatre company has brought back the archive recording of its hit version of Shakespeare’s problem play, which was captured live at the Barbican in 2017.
Available till 27th April
AMSTERDAM – ORANGE TREE THEATRE
An Israeli violinist. Living in her trendy canal-side Amsterdam apartment. Nine months pregnant. One day a mysterious unpaid gas bill from 1944 arrives. It awakens unsettling feelings of collective identity, foreignness and alienation. Stories of a devastating past are compellingly reconstructed to try and make sense of the present. A strikingly original, audacious thriller by Maya Arad Yasur, a prize-winning Israeli playwright, whose work has been produced worldwide. This is Matthew Xia’s first production as Artistic Director of ATC.
FLEABAG – LIVE SHOW
You might have seen the TV series – but the original show from which it was derived is available now. Phoebe Waller –Bridges acclaimed one woman show can be downloaded for 48hrs for £4
WIND IN THE WILLOWS
Based on the classic children’s story by Kenneth Grahame, the musical has a book by Julian Fellowes, music and lyrics by Stiles and Drewe and direction by Rachel Kavanaugh. The piece follows the various characters of the book including Mr Toad, Ratty and Mole, as they follow Toad’s insatiable need for speed.
The musical, which opened in June 2017, starred Rufus Hound as Toad, Simon Lipkin as Ratty, Craig Mather as Mole, Neil McDermott as Chief Weisel, Denise Welch as Mrs Otter and Gary Wilmot as Badger.
It costs £2.99 to watch and can be downloaded here https://www.willowsmusical.com/
ORIGINAL THEATE COMPANY – THE HABIT OF ART
Alan Bennett is one our greatest and most celebrated playwrights, with a cavalcade of stage and screen blockbusters including The History Boys, The Madness of King George and Talking Heads. He is applauded as a genius for his sharp character observations and treasured for the way he beautifully balances wit, wistfulness and compassion.
In The Habit of Art, Bennett gives us a play about a meeting between the poet WH Auden and the composer Benjamin Britten.
Exploring friendship, rivalry and heartache this multi layered masterpiece examines the joy, pain and emotional cost of creativity.
Starring Matthew Kelly and David Yelland this can be downloaded for £2.50 from: