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.
The final OnComm category takes into account that, especially in a home viewing situation, the audience is likely to be diverse in terms of age and experience. Indeed, this may well be the first time that a family group has been able to appreciate theatre together. As in the previous category, there is a strong emphasis on storytelling and clarity of delivery, and it is often the case that under-represented groups will be catered for. The four finalists in this category all gave a unique spin to some well-known family favourites.
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland Youth theatre Chickenshed’s second nomination in these awards (see also the Young People category) really shows their strengths as an inclusive company; the stage is full to bursting with performers taking on Lewis Carroll’s famous tale. British Sign Language is entirely integrated into the action widening the potential for audience appreciation even further and there is original music and choreography to enjoy as well. Somewhat different to their more issue led pieces, this demonstrates the enterprising company in party mood. The show is still available – click here. My full review is here.
Dream Catcher from Blue Moon Zoom achieves a unique place in these awards by being the only show nominated in two separate categories (see also the Immersive/Interactive category). With a nod towards Sleeping Beauty the piece was targeted specifically at families caring for an autistic child with extensive use of picture symbols to facilitate understanding and engagement Also, alongside the main show there were specially created Zoom workshops on offer for participants. I did not review the show, which is no longer streaming, though I have been more than charmed by a filmed version since.
Snow White In The Seven Months Of Lockdown King’s Head Theatre and Charles Court Opera combined forces to produce a boutique panto which came in adult only and family friendly versions; the nomination is for the latter. It was a modern take on the traditional fairy story with the heroine being played by a baritone voiced man and the seven companions all being played by one actor with some nifty costume and vocal changes. A big feature was the interactive elements through which participants could influence outcomes by voting. The show is no longer available (oh no it isn’t!) but my review is here.
The Legend of Moby Dick Whittington Sleeping Trees have a tradition of putting on an annual “mash up” panto; this production took things one stage further by having it happen at home – theirs and yours. The cast of three play all the main characters, supporting roles and crowd extras and even each other’s stunt doubles consistently employing ingenious solutions of a make do and mend variety to fire the imagination. The audience were encouraged to collect together household items to use as props; they get to join in scenes such as constructing a ship out of the living room sofa. The show is no longer available and my review is here.
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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