Whilst the West End has been put on hold until the easing of the national lockdown, there are no doubt many London visitors out there who are itching to find a way to enjoy live entertainment. Whilst nothing can beat the thrill of an audience and the intimate dynamic between a performer and their crowd, many streaming services have taken steps to satiate viewers through online theatre shows.
Many theatre performances are recorded for later viewing, and UK locals and guests at the Barbican Centre Cinema near the Barbican Rooms Hotel will no doubt have seen listings for the National Theatre Live in the past. These cinema screenings have been an attempt to open up theatre to a wider audience, a lot of people feeling more comfortable in a cinema than they would a theatre, and in doing so laid the foundations for the current mode of live performance viewing.
Among the recorded shows from both past and present, there are also completely new shows and performances created by theatremakers under lockdown. These have been made in attempts to address the current situation Below are just some of the ways in which theatre has adapted to the new set of social distancing rules, and some of the websites where you can find it.
With a 30 day free trial to begin with, and a stellar price of £14.99 a month, Marquee TV has been making waves for a few years now. Showcasing a handpicked selection of dance, theatre and performance, the online live performance streaming service also provides documentaries and making-of features about the shows you can stream.
Directed for the screen by Jeff Tudor, this stunning contemporary dance piece explores loss and isolation, melding theatre and dance into a very timely piece that has been well shot for the screen. The 2017 Olivier Award-winning performance is one of the best and most influential dance pieces streaming now.
What The Day Owes To The Night
What The Day Owes To The Night is a riveting piece of performance from a team of French-Algerian dancers. The dance is inspired by the relationship between the two countries and fuses martial arts, hip hop, contemporary dance and much more. What The Day Owes celebrates Muslim culture through powerful Eastern imagery, making it a must-see for housebound former guests at suite hotels in London.
Globe Theatre Online
Globe Theatre might be the home to Shakespeare’s classics, retold in the traditional Elizabethan style, but it also has had a modernisation of late. This subscription streaming service provides £6 rentals of many plays from the back catalogue of filmed performances of Globe Theatre Company plays. With 130 plays and rising awaiting you on the Globe Theatre database, this is the perfect way to experience London traditions even whilst the afternoon tea London City cafes and theatres are closed for the time being.
Amongst the most popular performances available on the Globe Theatre Online range are the many retellings of Shakespeare’s plays. From Mark Rylance as Iago to Roger Allam as Prospero, you’ll be able to see many of the best actors in the country performing as some of the best-loved dramatic characters in history.
It’s not just Shakespeare’s works that are available at Globe Theatre Online. Samuel Adamson’s play is set in 1690 and explores a rich collage of characters living in London, all brought together by the music of Handel and Purcell’s Orpheus.
Digital Theatre is a streaming platform dedicated to the wide world of international theatre and dance. Not only does this platform provide some of the best performances of both contemporary and classical shows in the Uk Capital, but from all across the world as well. Whether it’s new writing and fringe theatre performances or modern and historic classics, the range on their website makes sure that there’s something for everyone.
Soho Theatre Online
The Soho Theatre closed its doors back in early April but has maintained a steady stream of online shows for people to explore and enjoy. From cult comedian Jordan Brookes to household names like Desiree Burch, the broad array of comedy really does reflect the anarchic sensibilities of Soho’s favourite off-West end theatre.
Fleabag is one of the most popular performances available on the Soho Theatre Website. With performances from Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s most recent performances of the play at the Soho Theatre, Fleabag has become one of the most talked-about monologues on not only the London theatre scene but internationally too.
Jordan Brookes – I’ve Got Nothing
Jordan Brookes’s I’ve Got Nothing set the scene for one of the most revolutionary comedians on the scene today. With his absurdist, confrontational humour, Jordan Brookes’s I’ve Got Nothing was a breakout comedy show that sold out both of its Soho Theatre runs. Whether it’s the striking physicality of Brookes as a performer or the unique audience interaction, this well shot performance of I’ve Got Nothing is certainly a staple of the Soho Theatre family.
National Theatre At Home
The National Theatre has adapted magnificently to the COVID epidemic by showcasing some of its best plays for rental and often for free. Using YouTube links to filmed performances, this method of keeping eyes on theatre not only maintains attention but will garner more converts to the theatre as well, all whilst keeping theatre as accessible as possible.
Antony And Cleopatra
One of the most famous recent performances at the National Theatre was 2018’s Antony And Cleopatra. This historic tragedy depicts the rise and fall of the powerful power couple and saw Olivier worthy performances from Sophie Okonedo and Ralph Fiennes, two actors at the top of their game.
Another stellar addition to the National Theatre At Home streaming service, The Barbershop Chronicles explores the importance of barbers in African communities, and how their influence positively affects young men in Lagos, Johannesburg, Harare, Accra and London, bringing the grooming rituals of one room onto an international stage.