The OnComm is the Off West End Commendation which aims to recognise excellence in online theatre work. This award was introduced in May 2020 in the light of the lockdown arising from the Covid-19 pandemic. Following over 350 submissions and over 120 awards being made, it was decided to group the shows into a number of categories and then select finalists and winners for an online ceremony on February 21st, 2021. This can be seen on official OnComm partner Scenesaver’s website (click here). The event is free to view but you will need to be registered. As part of the build up to the big evening, I’ll be focusing on each of the OnComm categories in turn and previewing the four finalists in each group.
Recording pre-lockdown (direct)
When the pandemic began there were a number of enterprising souls who had already used platforms such as Vimeo and You Tube to upload their work and so were oven ready to start entertaining us from the get-go. Often these were simple one camera, back of the auditorium videos with the occasional zoomed shot and largely unedited after the event. The four finalists in this category are:
Going Viral Playmaker Daniel Bye’s part monologue play, part fun science lecture won a Fringe First Award at Edinburgh in 2015 and couldn’t have been timelier if it had tried dealing, as it does, with how disease spreads. Made on the back of the outbreak of Ebola it has only gained greater resonance since. The show is available on Scenesaver (click here), and further examples of Bye’s work in similar style can be found on his website (click here). Given current circumstances this is eminently worth a watch and by the conclusion as well as being entertained, you will definitely have a better understanding of how viruses operate. My full review is here.
Hysteria Outrageous comedy playmakers Spymonkey released most of their back catalogue in what they called their “ COVID-19 Emergency Physical Comedy Aid Package”. This particular show is a reworked version of the earlier Cooped and is a hysterically funny and dazzling display of verbal and (especially) physical humour from a four handed team who will stop at nothing (and I mean nothing) to raise a laugh. The show remains available on their website for a ridiculously small fee (click here) along with half a dozen others of their shows – all worth catching. But it was this show that got me hooked and it’s this show to which I would gladly return. I’m actually laughing now just thinking about it. My full review is here.
Jane Clegg The Finborough Theatre provided us with what was a fine example of a somewhat “lost” play (something of a speciality of theirs) in this domestic drama from 1913 written by St. John Ervine. It shares some common ground with Ibsen’s A Doll’s House though set in pre-war England as suffragism came to prominence. The production still has resonance today especially in the wake of #Metoo. The play is not currently available, but the Finborough has tended to repeat runs of its past successes, so it is worth keeping an eye open for it. In the meantime, my full review is here.
The House Of Bernarda Alba The deaf/disabled led company Graeae, in collaboration with the Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester, excelled itself in this production of the Lorca classic which works both as a domestic drama and as a comment upon the rise of Spanish fascism. Kathryn Hunter (her usual incredible self) took the lead role as a matriarch who instils fear and loathing into her daughters. My full review is here.
So that’s the first tranche. Hope you can take some time to watch these and read the reviews before the big reveal on February 21st. Good luck to all the nominee finalists.
A full list of all the OnComm finalists can be found here
Further information about the OnComms (including how to submit a show for consideration) can be found on the Off West End website – click here
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