THE GIRL AT THE WINDOW by Lisa McGee (6 mins), BEST WISHES by Abbie Spallen (6 mins), WAKE CAKE by Stacey Gregg (6 mins), A RANDOM ACT OF KINDNESS by Owen McCafferty(5 mins), LOVE LOCKDOWN by David Ireland (6 mins), JUST THE TWO OF US by Sarah Gordon (6 mins), ANNIVERSARY LOCKDOWN by Lata Sharma (7 mins)
Review Mark Courtice 6th July 2020
Lyric Theatre and BBC NI and BBC Arts
Despite being in desperate trouble, it’s amazing how creative, energetic and exciting the response from theatres to lockdown has been. The Lyric Theare in Belfast has reacted with huge speed, commissioning and producing this collection of short plays for broadcast by the BBC. The history of plays ripped from the pages of the news is not good; work created at such speed can sometimes feel like it, with underdeveloped texts, lack of rehearsal, and wobbly production standards.
There are no such problems here, the plays are very short, but they’ve been properly polished and created. With a roll call of some of the very best writers and directors in the country the writing is spot on. Isolation is seen as an opportunity, an alternative to the everyday. The writing is both spiky and good-hearted, celebrating humanity under pressure, without being sentimental.
Production standards are high, so although the plays are made under the strictures of the lockdown regulations there are no visible gaps and glitches. The direction never feels cramped or rushed. The one camera, constricted spaces and the distance aren’t constraints but tools of the trade.
The performances are great, with a range of technical and emotional challenges met with skill and feeling. They include Abigail McGibbon’s Gillian in David Ireland’s beady Love Lockdown – full of the possibilities of rewriting a mistake from the past out of sight in isolation. Two older actors are quite splendid, Stella McCusker as the fading but still beguiling actress given another chance to exercise her magic through the random act of kindness of Owen McCafferty’s delivery man and David Pearce as a cussed old misery resenting the kindness of strangers, they shine in a skilled cast who all of whom match the big-heartedness of the writing.
THE GIRL AT THE WINDOW
written by Lisa McGee
directed by Des Kennedy
performed by Anthony Boyle, Julie Lamberton and Richard Clements
written by Abbie Spallen
directed by Cathy Brady
performed by David Pearse and Jack Flynn
written by Stacey Gregg
directed by Emma Jordan
performed by Kerri Quinn
A RANDOM ACT OF KINDNESS
written by Owen McCafferty
directed by Jimmy Fay
performed by Stella McCusker and Eoin McCafferty
written by David Ireland
directed by Conelth Hill
performed by Abigail McGibbon
JUST THE TWO OF US
written, directed and performed by Sarah Gordon and Damian McCann
written by Lata Sharma
performed by Lata Sharma
directed by Emily Foran