The best theatre to stream this month: Death of England, Grenfell and more | Stage


Death of England

It started out as an online microplay about football, made for the Guardian and the Royal Court. Seven years later, Clint Dyer and Roy Williams’ Death of England has expanded into a sweeping trilogy that took over two of the National Theatre’s stages and concluded on television. Together, the productions are a deep dive into family, friendship, race and national identity, featuring stunning performances from Rafe Spall, Michael Balogun, Neil Maskell and Giles Terera. All three are now available on NT at Home.

George

Fancy a half-hour binaural musical about the retirement of a guide dog, with an 11 o’clock number from the canine’s point of view? A brown-eyed, black-and-tan German shepherd is the star of Tom Adams’ warm and wonderful audio experience celebrating teamwork, inspired by the bond between guide dog and owner. There’s an irrepressible spirit throughout, with mutt-like panting amid the percussion and strumming. A laid-back, gently revelatory experience recorded in one living room to be heard in another. Presented by Camden People’s theatre.

Katherine Vernez-Gray as Nelly in Dust
Katherine Vernez-Gray as Nelly in Dust. Photograph: Stephen Beeny

Dust

There is precious little online theatre for young children so hooray for Half Moon’s on demand service which includes Laura Dockrill’s play Dust for ages four to nine. Co-produced with Z-arts, it’s the tale of restless Titch who rocks up at the house of eccentric Nelly. And what a home it is: Peter Morton’s design is a spinning pink mansion complete with dangling gramophone. The tale of overcoming fears and navigating new relationships is tender and sparky as Dockrill considers the value of the dust that settles on our lives – and the need to blow it off once in a while.

Brighton fringe

There are more than two dozen digital productions at Sussex’s buzzy arts festival, with work from Israeli, Australian, American and other international talents. Earth & Fire, Water & Air, one of three prerecorded fringe films by Vince LiCata, follows the lives of four astronauts while there are four short works created by calligrapher and choreographer Chiharu Kuronuma and juggler Teruki Okamoto. Plus, puppetry, cabaret and “the world’s first play told entirely from the point of view of a tree”. Until 5 June so dive in quick.

Otvetka

Neda Nezhdana’s urgent exploration of war is a collaboration with the Theatre of Playwrights in Kyiv. Otvetka had its premiere in Ukraine weeks after Russia invaded. Kate Vostrikova performs the tale of a pregnant woman in a study of war’s psychological impact. Presented by Popdipingdi Productions in association with the Finborough and available on YouTube.

Henry VI Part One

As a curtain-raiser to its spring productions of Henry VI: Rebellion and Wars of the Roses, the Royal Shakespeare Company livestreamed rehearsals for the first part of the trilogy including movement, combat and verse-speaking classes. It was the first time the RSC let the public into the creation process in this manner and culminated in a full run-through of the play. That run-through is now available on demand until 30 September.

Ma Vie

Digital platforms aren’t just a chance to catch stage shows you missed. They can provide a first taste of work that is theatre-bound. That’s the case with Northern Ballet’s new short, Ma Vie, choreographed by Dickson Mbi. Inspired by the company’s Casanova production – and similarly reinterpreting the legendary lothario’s story – it is being developed for the stage this autumn. A beautifully filmed whirl of pleasure and pain, liberty and confinement.

Thomas Wheatley, Ron Cook and Sarah Coates in Grenfell: Value Engineering
Thomas Wheatley, Ron Cook and Sarah Coates in Grenfell: Value Engineering. Photograph: Tristram Kenton/The Guardian

Grenfell

“I was genuinely shocked,” said journalist Richard Norton-Taylor of the evidence given to the Grenfell inquiry. “Mistakes. Carelessness. A couldn’t-care-less attitude. Cost-cutting. Money-grubbing.” Norton-Taylor’s verbatim play Grenfell: Value Engineering, condensed from many hours of evidence, explores the shocking failures that led to the fire in which 72 people died. Staged by his regular collaborator Nicolas Kent, it was filmed in London in 2021 at the Tabernacle theatre – close to the site of the tragedy – and comes to Channel 4 on 12 and 13 June (then available on All 4) with the shortened title Grenfell.

Grin

Director and choreographer Mele Broomes’ slow-burn film starts with dancers emerging from a glittering constellation to a pulsating score and proceeds to fuse its lighting, costume and sound designs with transfixing results. Superbly presented in this 50-minute film, and available until 5 June as a pay-what-you-can stream from Battersea Arts Centre, it’s playful and powerful.

The Misfortune of the English

In 1936, a group of London schoolboys went for a walking tour in Germany’s Black Forest; five of them never returned home. Pamela Carter retraced the boys’ journey for her play about the tragedy and it grows into an exploration of British and German identity. Directed by Oscar Toeman at the Orange Tree theatre, available on demand until 3 June.

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