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Photo by Pamela Raith
Photo by Pamela Raith

The best theatre shows to stream online right now

The stages are shut and we’re all stuck indoors, but there are plenty of options to bring the stage to your living room

By Andrzej Lukowski, Katie McCabe and Rose Johnstone
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Digital theatre has come a very long way since the first lockdown in March 2020: initially, a number of big institutions threw open their digital archives to allow free streaming of the productions they’d pre-recorded for cinema or archive. As time wore on, an increasing number of original works of digital theatre have been created, while several theatres – notably the Old Vic – have opted to stream fully live performances from empty theatres, a practice that is allowed to continue during lockdowns.

While some shows are simply now available to stream indefinitely, this is a round up of shows that are either performed live or only available to watch for a limited time. Many of them are pay-for and ticketed.

There’s also a basic round-up of digital streaming platforms.

Shows streaming this month

Locked Down, Immersive theatre show, 2020
Photo by Morpheus

Locked Down

Theatre Interactive Your Living Room, Trafalgar Square

This intriguing sensory show from Morpheus bills itself as a terrifying piece of immersive theatre that you can do without leaving the house. Groups of up to six people must blindfold up and be ‘led’ – by actors – on an ‘imagination-bending sonic adventure’ via Zoom.

Uncle Vanya, West End 2020
Photograph Johan Persson

Uncle Vanya

Theatre Drama Your Living Room, Trafalgar Square

Ian Rickson’s exquisite production of Chekhov’s play starring Toby Jones, Richard Armitage and Roger Allam is now on iPlayer for the best part of 2021.

Digital players and platforms

'The Duchess of Malfi'
'The Duchess of Malfi'
Hugo Arterton

Globe Player

What is it? Shakespeare’s Globe’s digital platform.

What’s on it? More than 130 professionally filmed plays from the Globe’s vaults, mostly Shakespeare (duh) but also a couple of other tragedies including ‘The Duchess of Malfi’ starring Gemma Arterton (pictured).

What does it cost? From £3.99 to rent a play and from £5.99 to own one, plus some compilation bundles.

The Crucible, Digital Theatre, Richard Armitage
The Crucible, Digital Theatre, Richard Armitage
Photograph: Johan Persson

Digital Theatre

What is it? A Netflix-style streaming service for Digital Theatre’s purpose-made recordings of various plays, operas and dance.

What’s on it? It’s a tiny bit random, veering from West End to fringe, but lots of juicy stuff, with heavy hitters including Richard Armitage in ‘The Crucible’ (pictured) and Sheridan Smith in ‘Funny Girl’.

What does it cost? It’s £9.99 a month for full access, or you can rent an individual show for £7.99.

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Richard II, RSC, 2013, David Tennant
Richard II, RSC, 2013, David Tennant
Photograph: Kwame Lestrade

Marquee TV

What is it? A streaming player which has a chunk of RSC Shakespeare shows plus a lot of miscellaneous opera and dance from across the globe.

What’s on it? David Tennant in ‘Richard II’ is the pick of the RSC stuff; or if you want to get into opera there’s a complete Ring Cycle on there.

What does it cost? £8.99 a month or £69.99 a year, but it’s offering a 30-day free trial during the pandemic, which is cool.

Johan Persson
Johan Persson
Photograph: Johan Persson

National Theatre at Home

News Theatre & Performance

What is it? After keeping us sane in summer 2020 by putting a play a week onto YouTube for free, the NT has launched a subscription service that might actually make some money.

What’s on it? Loads and loads of stuff, with more plays added by the NT each month.

What does it cost? £9.99 a month or £99.98 a year, or individual shows can be ‘rented’ for 72 hours, at either £7.99 (cinema quality NT Live recording) or £5.99 (lower quality archive recording).

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Matt Henry in Kinky Boots
Matt Henry in Kinky Boots
Photograph: Courtesy BroadwayHD

Stage2View

What is it? A new theatre streaming platform, mostly based around musicals, but with a couple of plays and the promise of concerts in the future.

What’s on it? A fairly random selection of things - ‘Kinky Boots’ is probably the biggest musical, John Logan’s ‘Red’ the biggest play.

What does it cost? £4.99 per show.

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