There may be no 'The Shows Must Go On' stream this week but The Old Vic have saved the day by putting up a stream of their critically acclaimed production of Patrick Ness' A Monster Calls.
Originally written in 2011, A Monster Calls was adapted into a film in 2016, and two years later was adapted again, this time as a play at The Old Vic theatre. The filmed production of that has now been made available online for one week only. But is it worth watching?
Put simply... yes. I was blown away when seeing the original production at The Old Vic so worried it might not translate as well watching it at home. I couldn't have been more wrong.
If you're looking for something light and fun to watch, this isn't the show for you. A Monster Calls is thought provoking and highly emotional. The story is about 13 year old Connor struggling to come to terms with his mothers terminal illness. To help him, the "monster" visits him to tell him three stories with the promise Conor will tell the fourth. What starts as a seemingly sinister encounter has a lot more heart to it, and the show leaves you realising the monster in question was not what you originally thought.
The show does seem to get off to a slow start and it does take a little while to get your head around the concept and the staging of it. This is one instance where a little patience pays off, as you will be rewarded by sticking with it when you realise what is going on.
The staging in this production is deceptively simple. A plain white stage that rarely changes - all that is present on stage are a bunch of chairs and ropes. What they do with both to transform the stage and set the scene is creative and highly effective. The use of lighting and sound in this production really heightens the drama and differentiates between present day reality and the "fairy-tales" being told. With powerful performances from the cast including Matthew Tennyson as Conor, Stuart Goodwin as the Monster, Marianne Oldham as mum and Selina Cadell as Grandma, the emotion is played beautifully and to great effect throughout the two hour show.
To say the ending is one of the most traumatic and emotional bits of theatre I've ever seen would be an understatement. I found it even more moving watching it at home than I did at the theatre, perhaps because I didn't have strangers around me judging me while I ugly cried.
I really can't recommend this show enough to watch during lockdown. If you need a good cry, give this a go. If you just want to experience a fantastic bit of theatre, this is the show for you. But be quick - it is only available until 7pm on Thursday 11th June. Watch it directly below: