The Theatreguide.London Review
In March 2020 the covid-19 epidemic
closure of all British theatres. Some companies adapted by putting
archive recordings of past productions online, others by streaming new
shows. Until things return to normal we review the experience of
watching live theatre
Edinburgh International Festrival and National Theatre Of Scotland Summer 2020
In the absence of a
live Edinburgh International Festival this year, the Festival website
offers new and archive recordings of some scheduled companies and
The National Theatre of
represented by a new and purpose-made thirty-minute salute to
Scottish theatre and theatre in general, written and directed by Hope
The piece is structured
as a string of actors speaking
two-to-three-minute excerpts from more than a dozen Scottish plays.
Sources range from Barrie's Peter Pan through McGrath's The Cheviot
The Stag And The Black Black Oil to Rona Munro's James I and some
as-yet-unproduced new works.
A ghost light is the
naked bulb on a
stand that remains lit on a stage overnight, and director Leach and
her cameramen start and end with that image. In between, they wander
around the theatre building, with monologues spoken onstage,
backstage, and in a dressing room, a costume shop, a hallway, a lift,
a box seat, and so on.
There is no doubt that
the film is more
effective if you recognize some or all of the excerpts – they're
not identified until the closing credits – or recognize some or all
of the performers – ditto, and you might want to double back and
look again at James McArdle, Siobhan Redmond or others when you find
out who they were.
So the celebration of
the Scottish dramatic
heritage probably doesn't really work for the majority of those who
The love letter to theatre in general and this theatre building in particular is very evocative. The camera's eye – and the viewer's – is repeatedly drawn past the performer to the posters on the walls, the racks of costumes or just the fascinating backstage machinery.
In fact the half-hour is best spent in not trying to guess the quotation or the speaker, but in just allowing yourself to be caught up in the loving behind-the-curtain tour.
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