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With three new plays in the past six months, Morgan Lloyd Malcolm is having a moment. Her psychodrama Mum draws on the trauma, fear and guilt of early parenthood when you find your bundle of joy also brings a burden of expectation and exhaustion. Sophie Melville is superb as a new mother whose much-needed night off turns into a nightmare. Available from Soho theatre until 6 March, it’s an insightful meditation on the art and importance of care – not just for babies but parents, too. Read the full review.
Two Billion Beats
Since theatres reopened their doors many have reduced their online offerings, but not Richmond’s essential Orange Tree. Sonali Bhattacharyya’s Two Billion Beats was part of the theatre’s Inside/Outside livestream of short plays last Easter. This full-length version, directed by Nimmo Ismail and available on demand from 8-11 March, is a compelling, witty and perceptive tale of sisterhood and of politics past and present. Read the full review.
Walking With Ghosts
Gabriel Byrne returned to the Dublin stage for the first time since 1978 with this atmospheric one-man show based on his recent lyrical memoir. It takes him back to his childhood in the city as he remembers the people and places that have stayed with him. Byrne is a sensitive storyteller and gently evokes his youthful confusion about the mysteries of religion (“how does God get into the wafer?”) and the wonder of his first trip to the movies. Lonny Price’s production is online until 4 March. Read the full review.
The pandemic has brought about an explosion of digital experimentation from theatre-makers eager to test the limits when making your screen their stage. And in the “infant artform of online theatre”, as our own Mark Fisher writes, “Thaddeus Phillips is already shaping up to be its most imaginative exponent”. The Colombia-based writer and performer’s Zoo Mundo, available until 12 March, is an ingenious Zoom adventure with an epic historical sweep and a charming handmade aesthetic. Read the full review.
Streamed for three nights (3-5 March), Tom Littler’s compact production of the tragedy has Freddie Fox as an alcoholic prince and Guildford’s Holy Trinity Church doubling for Elsinore. Littler makes inventive use of the location, Edward Fox supplies the voice of Hamlet’s father and Guildford Shakespeare Company’s production features live organ music. Read the full review.
Sophie Ellerby’s scorching debut play was staged by Stef O’Driscoll at the HighTide festival in 2019 and has since been filmed for an online version, available from Nottingham Playhouse as a five-day rental until 31 May. One of the best dramas in recent years about the maelstrom of teenage life, it’s set over a summer holiday as the effervescent Bex parties with her older boyfriend and her new friend Ruth begins to shrug off her shyness. Read the full review.
In this powerful monologue by Ifeyinwa Frederick (The Hoes), Tunde is about to turn 30 but doesn’t feel like going out. He hasn’t hit the gym for a while either. What’s keeping him inside? Depression, says his therapist, who recommends a course of CBT. Frederick’s play, brilliantly performed by Joseph Black amid boxes of memories, offers its own kind of talking therapy, raising a range of still taboo issues around male mental health. Paines Plough and Soho theatre’s production is online from 4-13 March. Read the full review.
Sutton Foster and Robert Lindsay top the cast for this tale of sailors and crooks aboard the SS American, directed by Kathleen Marshall, but watch out for the scene-stealing Carly Mercedes Dyer as gangster’s moll Erma. The Barbican’s irresistible 2021 revival of Cole Porter’s shipshape showstopper is available on BBC iPlayer all year, which is just as well: you’ll probably want to watch it more than once. Like the song says: it’s de-lovely. Read the full review.
The streaming service National Theatre at Home has built up an impressive catalogue of handsomely filmed productions – and not just shows staged at the NT. One of its most recent additions (online until 2023) is Bryony Lavery’s adaptation of Oliver Twist, a touring production by Leeds Playhouse and Ramps on the Moon. It uses what dramaturg Jenny Sealey calls “an aesthetics of access”: creatively integrated sign language, audio description and captioning. Read the full review.
“Addicts cause chaos,” observes Marcus Brigstocke. “And addiction is everywhere.” The standup speaks from experience: his family drama The Red draws on his recovery from alcohol and drug abuse as a teenager, as well as an eating disorder. First heard on BBC radio and later staged at the Edinburgh fringe, it has now been filmed by Original Theatre Company (online from 16 March-16 June). Father-and-son actors Bruce and Sam Alexander star.