Venerable (ie, old but still ace) Waterloo theatre The Old Vic has announced a whole raft of new online initiatives, responding to London’s lockdown. Your Old Vic brings the spirit of the institution into your home, with loads of educational resources, a scheme to help with employment in the hard-hit theatre sector, and – crucially – a series of full-length online streams of Old Vic archive productions staged since Matthew Warchus became artistic director in 2015. The shows will be hosted for free on the Old Vic’s YouTube channel.
The first production is ‘A Monster Calls’, from 2018. This Olivier Award-winning show is an adaptation of Patrick Ness’s novel, directed by Sally Cookson. It tells the story of a 13-year-old boy, Conor, and his mother, who is dying of cancer. Every night, Conor is visited by a monster, who tells him about the human condition. Our four-star review at the time praised the show’s inventive staging and emotional rawness: ‘It works meticulously towards an end we see coming, but an admission from Conor that we perhaps don’t. It is unflinching in its assertion that lying to children about death can be more damaging than the truth, and that the stories we tell each other cannot all have happy endings. If you’ve read the book, you’ll know what I’m talking about; if you haven’t, then just brace yourself for tears.’
The news of Your Old Vic is another sign that London’s theatres are having to creatively respond to the likelihood that they will remain shut for the foreseeable future. Although The Old Vic announced that ‘A Christmas Carol’ would return to its stage in November, there is general speculation that theatres could not reopen until 2021, following the government’s lockdown exit statement Our Plan to Rebuild.
The Old Vic is also staging a revolutionary socially distanced revival of Duncan McMillan’s ‘Lungs’, starring Matt Smith and Claire Foy, whcih they will perform nightly to an empty theatre, while the audience streams it at home.
In the meantime, don’t miss ‘A Monster Call’; it’s fantastic (in both senses).
‘A Monster Calls’ is live at 7pm BST on Fri Jun 5 and available to watch until Thu Jun 11 on the Old Vic’s YouTube channel. Age 10-plus. For up-to-date information follow @oldvictheatre and #YourOldVic.
Jez Butterworth’s ‘Jerusalem’ has been announced as returning to the London stage in 2021.
Explore more theatre to stream while you’re in lockdown.