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
Scenes For Survival: The
Banshee, Danni The Champion, Sore Afraid, Wednesday, How We Roll,
National Theatre of Scotland Autumn 2020
With theatres closed, the National Theatre Of Scotland commissioned from Scottish writers almost fifty short scripts that could be recorded and produced under lockdown conditions. Originally broadcast on BBC Scotland, these plays – average length ten minutes – are now available from the NTS.
We reviewed a random
selection of six HERE,
and now pick another
six at random. The quality remains remarkably high. The best manage
in their brevity to conjure up an entire world or a fully rounded
In Greg Hemphill's The
Banshee Julie Wilson Nimmo
plays a woman suddenly struck with the impulse to write a story, but
constantly distracted by the painful wailings of a sick elderly
neighbour. As she reacts to the interruption an eerie and
supernatural tone begins to develop, and by the end she and we
realise she's found the ghost story to write.
That sense of something
actually happening in the course of the short play permeates Iain
Finlay Macleod's Danni The Champion as well, as Francesca Taylor
Coleman captures without bathos all the frustration and sadness of a
teenager living a dead-end life in a dead-end town.
But in the middle
of her barely articulate grumbling she stumbles on the
half-realisation – 'a whole life of this?' – that change might be
up to her. There is no promise of a happy ending, but we realise we
have caught the almost imperceptible moment when one became possible.
Sore Afraid, by Michael John O'Neill, starts out comically as the woman played by Maureen Beattie can't resist watching through two sets of windows as her neighbours have frequent and energetic sex. But as we learn of her own personal tragedy her emotional investment in what she chooses to believe are their attempts at procreation becomes sadly moving.
If the remaining three in this batch are not quite so resonant, they are still solid dramatic snapshots capturing their moment effectively. In Tena Stivicic's Wednesday a theatrical couple (Douglas Henshall and Morven Christie) rehearse a scene in their garden, the writing and performances artfully keeping us repeatedly unsure whether any given moment is part of their script or a real interaction of man and wife. J
anice Galloway's How We
Isabella Jarrett recording memories of being a young mother playing
with her daughter, with Cora Bissett as the mother in flashbacks. The
eventually explained reason for the recording colours both past and
And Rob Drummond's
Larchview has Mark Bonnar as a
government officer who broke his own lockdown rules rehearse his
public apology only to acknowledge, at least to himself, that his
crime was far worse than he is willing to admit on camera.
selection can bring up such high quality, the overall standard must
be very high, making the Scenes For Survival series well worth your
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