Accidental Theatre - Streamed Online
Written and performed by:
Lady Diana speaks to us from heaven and tells us the story of how her life unfolded. She is on a whirlwind of a tour around the UK, delighting live audiences and now granting this privileged opportunity to those at home with her presence. Lady Di is joined by her faithful sidekicks: the Queen, cardboard Charles, ghoulish Camilla and God, in this timeless tale of beauty, betrayal and acceptance.
Having seen this delightful show live 6 months ago, I was a little sceptical as to how well it would translate to a virtual viewing given that the audience participation and in-person atmosphere are what make this production so special. The creative team of Awkward Productions has taken some steps to improve the experience of the online viewers by including a chat and question box to join the cheering. At one point of the show, Lady Di (Linus Karp) called out one of the comments from an online viewer, acknowledging that their voices are heard. This is a well-made decision as the bulk of the fun comes from the live audience participation and there needs to be ways to help those online feel part of the storytelling.
It is important to flag that the Queen (Geri Allen) and God (Zina Badran) only make their appearance as a recording. When it is only Diana that is on stage, the online audience gets a split screen, with one showing the video recording and another focusing Diana, providing the streamers with just a clear view as those attend in person. However, this is not the case when the live audience is involved. The stage is recorded from several angles to try to capture the audience participators and Diana as they move around the stage. Some of the camera works are used creatively, such as a rapid transition from multiple angles to demonstrate the intensity of the moment. Perhaps unique for the online viewers, Camilla first appears as a silhouette as she approaches the stage, which makes this presence even more menacing.
However, this is also one of the main issues for the online viewers. Due to the fact that the recording is focused on the people on stage, the view of the instructions and text on screen are often partially hidden from view. This makes it harder for the online viewers to fully appreciate what is happening. This issue is further exacerbated if the participant speaks softly, which can deprive the online audience of both the audio and visual experience.
Using only a cardboard cut-out of Charles, Linus’s Lady Di creates a level of humours intimacy that one would not think possible. Similarly, Joseph Martin, who puppets the Camilla doll, has an exceptionally funny and violent sex with the cut-out. In fact, so violet that Martin is visibly breathless afterward.
Typical of Awkward Productions, the team has created a witty and hugely entertaining comedy sketch with budget materials and little resources, showcasing that creativity does not always come with a high price tag. Despite some of the shortcomings and the somewhat diminished experience online, the show remains a hugely enjoyable and is sure to leave the Queen turning in her grave.