The Theatreguide.London Review
In March 2020 the covid-19 epidemic
forced the 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 onscreen.
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 individual
The National Theatre of
Scotland is 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
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
So the celebration of the
Scottish dramatic heritage probably doesn't really work for the majority
of those who watch it.
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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