Lockdown things to do – Mark 2

We’re a bit more prepared for lockdown this time. The flowering of online offerings of plays and readings, ballet and music performances that sprang up over the summer has burgeoned into a multifarious online festival of the arts. Pam O’Toole has been looking to see what there is. 

Image above: Andrew Lincoln to star as Scrooge in the Old Vic livestreamed production of A Christmas Carol. Photograph – Helen Maybanks

Guest blog by Pam O’Toole

Here we go again. It feels like Groundhog Day, as we scrabble around in lockdown, desperately seeking new forms of online entertainment. Luckily, London is a resilient city and there are some brilliant streaming productions available to see you through the dark days of November and into December. You can even buy tickets to some of these events to give away as early Christmas presents. There’s a lot on offer. But here are some of The Chiswick Calendar’s favourites.

The Old Vic – A Christmas Carol

The Old Vic is offering what the Guardian describes as “the most ambitious and complicated piece of livestreamed UK theatre yet attempted during the pandemic”. It’s that Christmas stalwart, Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. It stars Andrew Lincoln (The Walking Dead, This Life) as Ebenezer Scrooge as part of a socially distanced cast of 18 actors, playing to an empty theatre.

You can book here and can buy multiple tickets (I bought a few as Christmas presents). One word of caution: you might have to queue for a while. When booking opened yesterday morning the queue was several thousand long and it took two hours to get tickets. But volume had dropped considerably by mid-afternoon.

You might think “Theatre online? Nah, not for me”. But having “attended” two of the Old Vic’s previous online productions, Andrew Scott in Three Kings and Michael Sheen in The Faith Healer, I can attest they are truly excellent.

Dates 12- 24 November (including some matinees). Tickets £10-£65


Image above: Sir Kenneth Branagh, Dame Judi Dench, Dame Maggie Smith, Ian McKellen and Sir Derek Jacobi in For One Knight Only

Lockdown Theatre – For One Knight Only

If you’re a theatre lover and haven’t yet discovered this wonderful outfit, it’s a goldmine of star-studded productions, all raising money for theatrical charities. In recent months, Lockdown Theatre’s livestream Zoom “table readings” have included Academy award winner Emma Thompson in Noel Coward’s Private Lives, A Bit of Waiting for Godot with Robert Lindsay, Michael Palin and Joanna Lumley and Tom Stoppard’s The Real Inspector Hound with Sir Derek Jacobi, Simon Callow, Jennifer Saunders, Freddie Fox, Emilia Clarke, Samantha Bond, Sanjeev Bhaskar, Gary Wilmot and Robert Lindsay. All these events have been followed by Q and As with the cast.

In November’s production, For One Knight Only, the chat with the cast appears to be the main event. But WHAT a cast! Sir Kenneth Branagh will be “in conversation with” fellow theatrical Knights and Dame Judi Dench, Dame Maggie Smith, Sir Ian McKellen and Sir Derek Jacobi.

Part of the joy of these productions is their informality; the stars are talking to you from their homes, they’ve all known each other for decades and there’s lot of friendly banter. And of course, there’s the fact that all the proceeds are going to support the hard-hit theatre industry.

Date: Sunday 29 November 7.00 – 8.30pm. Tickets £45 in aid of Acting for Others. Book here.

Image above: The Poltergeist and

Two productions at Southwark Playhouse

Southwark Playhouse has two livestream productions coming up in November. First a drama, The Poltergeist, from 20-21 November, and then a musical, The Fabulist Fox Sister from 4-5 December.
Another Southwark Theatre production, The Last Five Years had its run cut short because of the second lockdown. However, it will be available to stream in late November via Stream Theatre.
It’s worth checking out Stream Theatre for a host of other theatrical productions available for streaming.


Image above: Cinderella at the Nottingham Playhouse

Pantos and Christmas shows

As for Christmas shows and pantos – well, we’re told that the current lockdown will be over by December. But some theatres are taking no chances. The Lyric Theatre Hammersmith has regretfully postponed its production of Aladdin until 2021. The Riverside Studios in Hammersmith appears to be pressing ahead with live events for December – including Dear Santa, running from 2- 24 December


But if you want the best of both worlds – to experience some of the magic of panto without leaving your living room, you might try going further afield (online, that is). Over recent months, the Nottingham Playhouse has been pioneering hybrid productions with socially-distanced live audiences joined by a Zoom livestream audience. Its latest pantomime, Cinderella will be live-streamed on Saturday 19 and Thursday 24 December, allowing you to experience the show at the same time as the live audience. The Playhouse also plans to offer an On-Demand version.


Image above: Spitalfields Festival: At Home, featuring Black Music & History of the East End

Spitalfields Festival

Looking ahead to December, this year’s Spitalfields Festival on 5 December will be entirely online. A £15 ticket will gain you access to a variety of musical and other events, including eight world premieres by female composers, a performance of Baroque masterworks and an informal late-night Song Club, featuring composer Errollyn Wallen and singer-songwriter Katie Mellua

Image above: Hamlet at the Globe Theatre

Globe Theatre

The Globe Theatre is offering its past productions for viewing. Prices vary, depending on whether you want to rent or buy, and you can also purchase individual productions as a gift. See what’s on offer here.

The Globe also has a series of Shakespeare-themed free talks you can attend online.


Image above: Architects streaming event live at the Albert Hall

Royal Albert Hall

Fans of metalcore band Architects will be aware that they’re due to release a new studio album, For Those That Wish To Exist on 26 February. On 21 November, they will be sharing an exclusive worldwide streaming event recorded in the empty Royal Albert Hall.


Image above: Royal Ballet production Within the Golden Hour

Classical music and dance

If you’re a classical music fan, The Royal Opera House has a string of livestreamed and pre-recorded online events coming up in November. Friday 20 November will see a livestreamed concert performance of Ariodante. This rarely performed work opened Handel’s first season at Covent Garden in 1735 and has not been performed at the Royal Opera House since.


The Royal Ballet presents a programme of ballet excerpts and set pieces concluding with Christopher Wheeldon’s one-act ballet of shimmering beauty Within the Golden Hour. Available to watch or share for £10.


Image above: Love Actually live in concert

Meanwhile Classic FM has an extensive list of forthcoming streamed opera and classical music performances.


For more ideas of things to do online, see our Lockdown things to do index here.

Pam O’Toole was for many years a journalist with BBC World Service

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Artists At Home Christmas auction

See also: St Michael’s auction fundraiser

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