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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.

‘Lungs’
Photograph: Helen Maybanks

Lungs

Theatre Drama Your Living Room, Trafalgar Square

Following its 2019 run, the Old Vic’s production of ‘Lungs’ was revived with Matt Smith and Claire Foy, but without a live audience to be the first show in the theatre’s In Camera strand. It returns for 2021 as part of In Camera: Playback – in essence, a series of digital repeats at a cheaper price than the original live show.

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Photograph: London International Mime Festival
Photograph: London International Mime Festival

London International Mime Festival 2021: Videotheque

Theatre Experimental Your Living Room, Trafalgar Square

For the past 44 years, London’s festival of visual theatre has brought some of the world’s most boundary-pushing and fascinating shows to the capital; we’re talking everything from acrobatics to mime, mask work to puppetry. Often, these shows receive such short runs that it can be hard to nab tickets – which is why LIMF’s first-ever virtual festival, ‘Videotheque’ is so exciting. From now until January 31, you can stream shows from 1990 onwards for free through the LIMF website. Some, like the mind-blowing ‘32 Rue Vandenbranden’ by Belgian dance theatre company Peeping Tom, are only available certain dates, so make sure you check so you don’t miss out.

Photograph: Supplied
Photograph: Supplied

I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change

Theatre Musicals Your Living Room, Trafalgar Square

This super-popular musical comedy revue by Jimmy Roberts and Joe DiPietro has been performed over 5,000 times since it premiered in 1996 – but this is the first time that it’s been filmed on stage to be streamed. Performed at the London Coliseum, this relationships-themed show stars Brenda Edwards of ‘X Factor’ and ‘We Will Rock You’ fame, plus Simon Lipkin (‘First Date, Nativity’), Alice Fearn (‘Wicked, Come From Away) and Oliver Tompsett (‘Kinky Boots’, ‘& Juliet’).

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The Mermaid’s Tongue
Photograph: Courtesy of The Mermaid’s Tongue

The Mermaid’s Tongue

Things to do Games and hobbies Your Living Room, Trafalgar Square

This spooky online detective game – which you need to sign up to with a group – is the follow-up to ‘Plymouth Point’, a bit online hit during the first lockdown.

Mischief Movie Night In, 2021
Photo by Pamela Raith

Mischief Movie Night In

Theatre Comedy Your Living Room, Trafalgar Square

The original cast-slash-brains behind Mischief Theatre’s ‘The Play The Goes Wrong’, ‘The Comedy About a Bank Robbery’ etc reunite for this night of online improv in which they act out a film based upon audience suggestions.

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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.

Streaming shows coming up

Photograph: Original Theatre Online
Photograph: Original Theatre Online

Good Grief

Theatre Drama Your Living Room, Trafalgar Square

Is it a play? Is it a film? Well, it’s something in between. Following on from the success of their live-streamed production of Tom Stoppard’s ‘A Separate Peace’ in May 2020, London theatre company Platform Presents will premiere ‘Good Grief’, by Lorien Haynes. Created for the screen, not the stage, the play was rehearsed over Zoom and filmed in a studio to be streamed for three months from February 15. Directed by Natalie Abrahami, ‘Good Grief’ is a romantic comedy which follows the story of two friends coming to terms with the loss of a woman they both loved. BAFTA award-winning Sian Clifford – otherwise known as Fleabag’s uptight sister, Claire – stars alongside Nikesh Patel, who you might recognise as Foaly in ‘Artemis Fowl’.

Photograph: Supplied
Photograph: Supplied

Redemption Room

Theatre Interactive Your Living Room, Trafalgar Square

In these unpredictable times, the idea of wielding a bit of power feels pretty satisfying. Secret Theatre Projects allowing you to do just that with 'Redemption Room' – an interactive theatre experience taking place over Zoom, where you get to decide the fate of six disgraced celebrities. As an audience member, you're part of a judging panel who will interact with fellow judges as well as the celebrities, who beg for redemption for their 'crimes'. A fun extra element is that the celebrities are located in six cities, and will join the Zoom from those locations: London, Hong Kong, Singapore, Mumbai, Sydney and New York. 

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Photograph: Southwark Playhouse
Photograph: Southwark Playhouse

The Sorcerer's Apprentice

Theatre Musicals Your Living Room, Trafalgar Square

Southwark Playhouse presents this new British musical that puts a gender-swapped spin on Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s classic poem (you might be more familiar with the Disney ‘Fantasia’ version). This version is set under the Northern Lights in a town called Midgard, where the rebellious daughter of a sorcerer discovers her newfound powers just in time to save her town from destruction. Suitable for all ages.

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, though so much that the NT is able to rotate the line-up every six weeks.

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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