The Hen & Chickens Theatre (venue)
08 August 2021 (released)
08 August 2021
“Hands, face, space, hands, face, space…” what was the most absurd experience from your lockdown memories?
Joe (played by Edward Bartram) lives alone in a tiny flat, as he struggles to make sense of the pandemic, the lockdown madness and the politicians’ ridiculously ambiguous messages from the daily briefing, he starts having an imaginary conversation with the speaker at the podium…
Coronavirus – A Great British Farce is a dark comedy, a satirical show inspired by the writer – Mark Daniels’s lockdown diary entries. A previous version of the script won the Shakespeare in Italy’s 2021 playwright competition in March, and the show is now part of the Camden Fringe Festival.
The stage design is simple, clean and minimalistic, which is perfect as it keeps the audience’s focus on the key elements of the show – the plot and the performance.
The plot – apart from smartly playing with the way our leaders handled the pandemic, it involves memories and experiences many of us have shared – from matters such as loo rolls, haircuts, 2 metres… to resonating feelings of loneliness, perplexity, irony… it intelligently involved some of the most bizarre moments during the pandemic, ones that many of us would have, or would know someone who have gone through.
The performance by the cast was excellent. Apart from the real and relatable portrayal on Joe by Edward Bartram, the performance by Kathryn Haywood, who played the more surreal character – the Speaker, was brilliant as she wonderfully depicted a range of roles with very comical physical and verbal expressions, and yet in one of the more serious scenes she amazingly created the mood and held the tension in the room. The interaction between the two actors was spot on and has hugely contributed to the success of the show too.
The direction by Edwina Strobl was noteworthy as well – the pace, the movement, the use of space, the tension and the exchange of energy were all very well executed.
Overall it was a funny and enjoyable show. What might improve it even more is to perhaps enrich the plot with an even wider variety of content and jokes, especially as the world is not exactly “normal” yet and we are still experiencing new and weird situations in our everyday lives since the script was first developed.