If you’re missing the theatre as much as we are, then you will be reassured to know that there are plenty of ways of getting your fix without leaving the comfort and safety of your own home.
And whilst nothing could quite compare to the excitement of watching a production in a regular theatre, many of the options listed here are either free or come with a generous trial period.
Yep, there are a plethora of ways to experience theatre that don’t involve leaving home: from watching it the small screen, to making use of the many excellent streaming services, to accessing theatre companies own downloads.
But whichever method you use, the main thing is that you can still enjoy the best of what London theatre has to offer, coronavirus notwithstanding. So, without further ado, here’s our list of the top ten ways to watch London Theatre productions without leaving home.
1. The BBC
Ah, good old Aunty Beeb. In time of trouble, could there be a more comforting places to look for solace than the British Broadcasting Company? Auntie is really stepping up her game this spring with a ‘virtual festival of the arts’ entitled Culture in Quarantine.
Covering the whole gamut of the BBC’s broadcasting channels, the festival will feature “guides to shuttered exhibitions, performances from world-class musicians and comedy clubs, new plays created especially for broadcast featuring exceptional talent, poetry and book readings”.
Amongst the plays on offer are Mike Bartlett’s Albion and Emma Rice’s Wise Children.
2. Globe Player
The coronavirus crisis is certainly no barrier to enjoying some Shakespeare. Shakespeare’s Globe have a rather excellent streaming platform called the Globe Player and its choc a bloc full of fantastic productions.
The bard’s entire cannon is pretty much featured on Globe Player with most of the material coming from the last decade at the theatre. If you’re looking for a tip – why not begin with Michelle Terry’s wonderful production of Hamlet from 2018. It’s vintage stuff.
You can choose to rent or buy each production with prices starting from an insanely reasonable £4.99 (that’s less that the cost of a groundling pass at the theatre itself!). And best of all, using the service means that you will be supporting one of the nation’s finest theatres in their hour of need.
3. Digital Theatre
Billing themselves as the “THE WORLD’S LEADING DIGITAL PLATFORM FOR THE ARTS”, Digital Theatre are another great platform for watching theatre. The company have amassed some pretty top notch content, even if the volume of that content is perhaps a little lacking.
A quick browse turned up Maxine Peake’s Hamlet, All My Sons with Zoe Wanamaker and David Suchet and Sheridan Smith’s star turn in Funny Girl. However, Digital Theatre currently have only 100+ productions available to view.
You can pay as you go, with prices starting at £7.99 per play, or, you can take advantage of the subscriptions which start from £9.99 a month.
4. Marquee TV
Marquee TV launched in a blaze of publicity in June 2018 with many observers describing the new company as “the Netflix of the arts and culture”. It’s a big boast but one that the fledging channel has already more than lived up, with a fabulous line up of titles available to view.
The theatre section of the site houses such acclaimed productions as As You Like It, Lady Windermere’s Fan, Richard II and Henry IV Part II. There are also behind the scenes excerpts and specially curated ‘seasons’ of plays.
5. It’s True, It’s True, It’s True
This award winning production about the life of the 17th century artist Artemisia Gentileschi was due to open at the Barbican in late March 2020. Instead, the company have announced that they will stream the play via You Tube. It’s on from the 31st of March for a month.
6. The Show Must Go Online
Robert Myles exciting new project sees the talented actor gather together (by video link) an incredibly talented group of actors and ‘experienced amateurs’ to work through the complete works of Shakespeare in the order in which they were written. Each performance is then made available on You Tube.
7. The Wind in the Willows
Fresh from its successful run in the West End, Julian Fellowes’ version of Kenneth Grahame’s much-loved classic, The Wind In The Willows, is now available for streaming with the company behind the production merely asking for a small donation for theatre charities.
This version of the celebrated play opened in the West End in June 2017, with Rufus Hound as Toad, Simon Lipkin as Ratty and Gary Wilmot as Badger.
8. The Habit of Art
The Original Theatre Company’s production of Alan Bennett’s The Habit of Art was scheduled to open in Eastbourne on the 18th of March 2020. However, following the nationwide closure of cultural institutions, the company have decided to make the play available for download instead.
Find out more here.
9. Cyprus Avenue
David Ireland’s darkly humorous story about a Belfast loyalist was adapted for BBC Four in 2019, and now the play has been made available for free from the Royal Court’s web and social media accounts.
Watch Cyprus Avenue online here
A bit of an experimental one, this. Kieran Hurley’s new play Bubble will be performed by a cast of student actors who have never met before with the results broadcast on the Theatre Uncut website.
The company’s joint Artistic Directors Emma Callander and Hannah Price had this to say about the production: “Bubble is one of the most provocative, dynamic, smart plays we have read for a long time. Set entirely on Facebook and written in text and emjoi it explores the disconnect between online persona and true personality, the fractured nature of online debate and how events can snowball in expected ways.
We are excited to see what groups around the world make of the play and to bring together 10 international student performers to create the borderless online film of the play.”
Bubble will debut on the Theatre Uncut website on the 23rd of March 2020.
Watch Bubble here
For information on other great ways to experience theatre in London, please click here.