Digital theatre is the future. At least, that’s what I think. Of course, it can never replace live performance but I think as we move forward in this COVID world, I believe digital theatre is an essential art form that must continue. Not only does it address many of the accessibility limitations of live theatre, with so many of our old Victorian buildings still lacking disabled access, as well as the limitations with captioned and audio description services for theatre productions; digital theatre could be a way in which to reach audiences who often feel ostracised by the very infrastructure of live theatre. Not to say that digital theatre is in itself universally accessible, but it also offers theatre company’s a more autonomous platform in which to showcase their work. It can be a way for under-represented voices to bypass the difficulties of traditional theatre programming and the myopathy of certain industry gatekeepers in order get their work produced and shown to audiences. Lights Down Production’s Light On Showcase combines this independent spirit of producing with the rebellious streak of working in this pandemic era with impressive verve.
Produced by Caley Powell, and featuring the works of ten women writers, the Light On Showcase is a collection of five monologues and five duologues, ranging across the spectrum of drama and comedy with a cast of thirteen actors. It’s a brilliant body of work, with narratives ranging from a sweet couple lamenting their COVID delayed wedding day, a truck driver’s magically strange nocturnal encounter, an American and a Brit looking to swap nationalities via a dating app type service, to a queer couple trying to photoshop their own digital wedding – Light On covers a lot of narrative bases and appeals to a wide demographic.
This is a fascinating anthology of tales with some truly excellent performances. Jodyanne Richardson shines in Judy Upton’s The White Hart, elevating the already beautifully mercurial writing into a space of intimate naturalism. Emilie Maybank brings a detailed performance to her own writing in CitizenSwap.com as the simmering pain and anguish of her character is played with wonderful skill. Saba Nikoufekr and Josie Sedgwick-Davies have gorgeous chemistry in Maybank’s I Digitally Do while the musicality and tenderness of Catherine O’Shea’s Milton Keynes State of Mind are expertly brought to life by Moureen Louie and Gracie Lai. While some of the pieces could have benefited more from embracing the socially distanced constraints of their production, this is an impressive showcase of talent and passion for this art form we call theatre. Work like this reminds us that creativity can still bloom in adversity and that, in and of itself, is incredibly inspiring.