Mark Ludmon previews new streaming theatre highlights available online in April, from comedy and drama to musicals and revues.
British-Hong Kong playwright Amy Ng has adapted Strindberg’s classic drama, Miss Julie, into a newly politically-charged production that relocates the story to 1940s Hong Kong. The 75-minute show will be live-streamed from the stage at Chester’s Storyhouse, which is co-producing it with New Earth Theatre. Available online from 9 to 17 April, it will be touring stages later this year.
Oscar Wilde’s classic 1895 comedy of manners, The Importance of Being Earnest, has been relocated to the present day in the north of England in a new adaptation by Yasmeen Khan with director Mina Anwar. Presented by Huddersfield’s Lawrence Batley Theatre and the Dukes theatre in Lancaster, it now sees a struggling actor and a rom-com star come together in pursuit of love. It is available 19 April to 4 May.
BAC’s spring season, Wild Times, gets underway on 19 April with The Motherhood Project – 15 films featuring dramatic monologues and real-life reflections that explore the guilt, joy, absurdity, pressure and taboo surrounding motherhood. Contributors include Anya Reiss, Hannah Khalil, Lemn Sissay and Morgan Lloyd Malcolm. The season runs to July and includes Selina Thompson’s adaptation of her award-winning show, Salt.
Jack Holden stars in his own one-man play, Cruise, which follows a hedonistic young man with HIV in Soho in the 1980s, going out for what doctors predicted should be his last night on earth. Directed by Bronagh Lagan and filmed at Shoreditch Town Hall, the 90-minute show features an electro soundtrack by John Elliott. Available from 15 to 25 April.
Olivier Award winner Clive Rowe and rising star Lem Knights star in new musical Cells, which will be released in episodes on YouTube every day from 19 April. Presented by Metta Theatre, it is written and directed by its artistic director P Burton-Morgan with music by Ben Glasstone and tells the story of two strangers who meet by chance but soon find they cannot live without each other. It has been made in partnership with Royal & Derngate in Northampton, Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch and the Stephen Joseph Theatre in Scarborough, which will receive a share of donations made.
Leading Broadway stars came together to make A Killer Party – a digital murder mystery musical – last year. It has now been adapted with a UK cast for release in nine episodes from 19 April to 16 May via Stream.Theatre. Directed by Benji Sperring, it features a fantastic cast including Jason Manford, Rachel Tucker, Harriet Thorpe, Debbie Kurup, Oscar Conlon-Morrey, Cedric Neal and many others.
Original Theatre Company is presenting A Splinter of Ice, a new play by Ben Brown which imagines a meeting at the end of the Cold War between novelist Graham Greene and his old MI6 boss, the Soviet spy, Kim Philby. Available to watch online from 15 April to 31 July, this political drama stars Oliver Ford Davies, Stephen Boxer and Sara Crowe. It will be filmed on stage at Cheltenham’s Everyman Theatre ahead of touring theatres this summer.
I WISH MY LIFE WERE LIKE A MUSICAL
King’s Head Theatre in London is presenting a number of shows in its digital-on-demand season, Plays On Film. They include 2019 revue I Wish My Life Were Like a Musical from 22 April, starring Luke Bayer, Charlotte O’Rourke, Lucas Rush and Charlotte Anne Steen in a show about what it takes to be a West End star. Other highlights this month include Lorna Well’s dark comedy Illusions of Liberty, twisted millennial rom-com Jew…ish, Barry McStay’s charming bat-infested comedy drama Vespertilio, Leigh Douglas’s funny and thought-provoking monologue, Sacrament.
Three more short plays will have their world premiere as part of the Inside/Outside season from London’s Orange Tree Theatre. With all three available to watch together from 15 to 17 April, they focus on the theme of “outside”, written by Sonali Bhattacharyya, Zoe Cooper and Kalungi Ssebandeke.
Three people seek to reconnect with the people in their lives at the start of the global pandemic in new show Distance Remaining from Helen Milne Productions, the producers of hit Scottish musical Islander. It blends film, theatre and an electronic score, written by Stewart Melton with an original soundtrack by Louise McCraw, and features Karen Dunbar, Reuben Joseph and Dolina MacLennan. It is available from 14 April to 9 May.
A band of not-so-merry princesses come together to rewrite classic fairy tales in Disenchanted, an all-female musical “romp” with book, music and lyrics by Dennis T Giacino. It features Jodie Steele as Snow White, Sophie Isaacs as Cinderella, Allie Daniel as Sleeping Beauty, Grace Mouat as Pocahontas, Millie O’Connell as The Little Mermaid, Courtney Bowman as Princess Badroulbadour, Natalie Chua as Mulan, Shanay Holmes as The Princess who Kissed the Frog, Aisha Jawando as Belle and Jenny O’Leary as Rapunzel.
Eurobeat, the hilariously camp and colourful musical inspired by Eurovision, will premiere in a new online version called Eurobeat – The Pride of Europe. With David O’Reilly’s “Orla Board” playing mistress of ceremonies Marlene Cabana, it features a host of theatre stars including Joanne Clifton, Tia Kofi, Harriet Thorpe, Sooz Kempner, Tom Read Wilson, Andy Coxon and Scott Garnham. It will be filmed at London’s Clapham Grand and streamed globally from 30 April to 10 May on Stream.Theatre. Viewers can vote online after watching the show, feeding into The Results Show which will be streamed from 14 to 18 May.
The story of Pride and Prejudice’s charming anti-hero, George Wickham, is revealed in a solo play starring Adrian Lukis who played the character in the 1995 BBC adaptation starring Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth. Written by Lukis and Catherine Curzon, Being Mr Wickham will stream on 30 April and 1 May from Theatre Royal Bury St Edmunds.
New film versions of The Winter’s Tale and Katherine Parkinson’s comedy drama Sitting feature in BBC Arts’ Lights Up festival on BBC4 in April, part of 18 new works adapted for TV and radio with theatres across the UK. Shakespeare’s play is directed by Erica Whyman, who was due to present a production of it for the Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford-upon-Avon and on tour until Covid hit. The cast includes Joseph Kloska, Kemi-Bo Jacobs, Georgia Landers, Andrew French, Anne Odeke, Assad Zaman and Amanda Hadingue. Parkinson’s play, which premiered at Edinburgh Fringe in 2018, is on 7 April, directed by Jeremy Herrin and featuring Parkinson, Mark Weinman and Alex Jarrett. Another highlight is Natasha Marshall’s Half Breed on 6 April. The date for The Winter’s Tale is not yet announced. All films will be available on BBC iPlayer after the broadcast.
Pitlochry Festival Theatre and Edinburgh’s Royal Lyceum continue with Sound Stage, their collaboration with Naked Productions, presenting audio plays from leading writers. This month sees the premiere of John Byrne’s Tennis Elbow from 30 April, directed by Pitlochry’s artistic director, Elizabeth Newman. Described as a bittersweet comedy about the life and work of a mischievous lost artist trying to make her way in the world, it features a 10-strong cast including Maureen Beattie, Samuel West, Louise Jameson, Kirsty Stuart, Brian Ferguson and Anne Odeke.