Lockdown or no lockdown, online theatre is here to stay. Or at least we hope. Watching an incredible performance (at a reduced price) from the comfort of one’s own home is a wonderful way to spend an evening. The electric atmosphere of a theatre after lights down is much missed but for students, the advantage of the pause button and being able to take notes is not to be underestimated.
Romeo & Juliet at The National Theatre
This brand new, COVID-thwarted production of Romeo & Juliet from the National Theatre has shifted to screen and in so doing looks set to become a truly ground-breaking performance. Starring Josh O’Connor and Jessie Buckley as the eponymous heroes of Shakespeare’s romantic tragedy, the one hour and 40 minute production is available with a NOW TV entertainment pass or Sky subscription.
Uncle Vanya from the BBC and the Harold Pinter Theatre
This critically acclaimed production of Anton Chekhov’s masterpiece was abruptly halted as London theatres fell prey to the pandemic. Toby Young stars as the eponymous hero in this timely portrayal of a fractured family forced to confront their longing, loneliness, and each other. Available on BBC iPlayer until October 2021.
The Show Must Go Online
The brainchild of Robert Myles, this is a theatre platform unlike any other. Actors come together via zoom to perform Shakespeare’s classics in a relaxed, informal atmosphere where the audience can easily engage with the players. They hail from six continents and are of all levels, from seasoned pros to new graduates and enthusiastic amateurs. In the words of one critic: “Bloody brilliant. Genuinely incredible.”
Barnes People from Original Theatre Online
Often likened to Alan Bennet’s Talking Heads, Barnes People is a series of monologues written in the 1980s and 90s. Originally performed by Alan Rickman and Judy Dench, this revival was shot on the stage of the Theatre Royal Windsor and features well known names such as Matthew Kelly and Jemma Redgrave. Available online until July 31st 2021.
The Sorcerer’s Apprentice from the Southwark Playhouse
Acclaimed writers Richard Hough and Ben Morales Frost have created this enchanting new British musical, a twist on the timeless poem by Goethe. Discover the extraordinary world of a sorcerer and his rebellious daughter – played by London School of Musical Theatre graduate Mary Moore in her debut role – as she discovers the explosive possibilities of her newfound magical powers. Streaming from February 26th until March 21st 2021.
The Globe Theatre
Pretty much every Shakespeare play you can think of is here. Recent productions such as a Romeo and Juliet imagined especially for young people are available to watch for free on YouTube. The full back catalogue can be found for an average rental price of £4.99 on their video-on-demand platform, Globe Player. There can be no better way to get to grips with an A-level text. And no better place (right now) for Shakespeare fans to watch their favourites. Add the Globe podcast, Some Stuff, to the list of things a teenager should listen to to further enrich their understanding.
The Netflix for theatre, Digital Theatre is a subscription based service charging £9.99 for unlimited access. Performances are captured live by the Digital Theatre team. Shakespeare abounds but there are many other classics including plays by Noel Coward and Arthur Miller. A selection of opera and dance completes the offering.
Wind in the Willows from Jamie Hendry Productions
One for the younger brother or sister, this recent production has been much acclaimed for its wonderful set design and exuberant choreography. Oscar winning screenwriter Julian Fellowes breathes new life into the adventures of Ratty, Badger, Mole and the impulsive, speed fiend Toad.