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.
This category covers material aimed at the under 12 age range though, of course, it can be enjoyed by anyone of any age. Entries can be original in concept or adaptations of already existing material. Playmakers in this area know the value of basing a piece upon powerful storytelling and have rightly taken this as their starting point. The final line up in this category all comes from highly regarded children’s theatres who are more than adept at their art and have produced delightfully stimulating tales for younger audiences.
Michael Rosen’s Clever Cakes The first of the Little Angel Theatre’s two entries is introduced and narrated by the master storyteller himself. At only ten minutes this brief tale packs a lot in (not least raising questions about gender inequality) and is charmingly presented with puppets created from the pages of a book. The story is still available to view – click here and there is also a downloadable supporting activity pack which might help with some home schooling requirements. My review is here.
Paper Aeroplane Lots Of Odds presented this play for 3-7 year olds on the stage of the Half Moon Theatre. It captures a sense of fun and adventure as the two performers play out their fantasies about flying and travel. The piece also playfully explores notions of friendship and inclusion and even deals (sensitively) with bereavement. The show has recently been available again and may well return as part of the theatre’s continually evolving offering. My review is here.
The Twits This production of Roald Dahl’s story is given the appropriately full anarchic treatment by the Unicorn Theatre. Billed as a reading, it is obviously so much more than that as the two storytellers put over the narrative with energy and conviction bringing the various characters to life with their vocal skills. There is all manner of visual and aural delights to keep things thoroughly entertaining. This three part show is available to watch for the rest of this month – click here. My review is here.
There’s A Bear On My Chair Little Angel Theatre’s second finalist is based on Ross Collins’ popular children’s story in which Mouse goes to increasingly desperate lengths to remove a polar bear from the immediate vicinity. It’s another exquisite and charmingly realised short piece from the experts in puppetry. Although it doesn’t appear to be listed on the company’s website it does still seem to be available – click here. I did not review this piece.
Hope you can take some time to have a look at these and read the reviews before the big reveal on February 21st. Good luck to all 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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