Lockdown Things To Do – November 2020

Guest blog by Pam O’Toole

One of the few upsides of the latest lockdown is the sudden surge in exciting new forms of entertainment.

During the first lockdown, the online entertainment was relatively basic, as people expected things to get back to “normal”. Musicians played a few gigs from their living rooms, actors got together on Zoom to read a play.

It’s now cranked up a notch. Theatre and music productions are slicker, more professional.  Celebrities are staging special online events to promote their new projects. And – good news for the audience – tickets are usually much cheaper than attending a West End show or concert.

Perhaps the biggest game changer was Niall Horan’s concert live from an empty Albert Hall earlier this month. The gig by the former One Direction star was professionally directed and sold 125,000 tickets across 151 countries. With perhaps two or three people watching each screen, it may have reached an audience of almost half a million.

Other music promoters have already jumped on the bandwagon.

Here are some of the latest and best online offerings:


A London music-tech start up, boosted its international profile earlier this year when it bought pioneering music streaming platform, Napster.

It’s now offering a series of livestream gigs over the next month, available via its app on smartphones and MelodyVR headsets.

On 28 November, The Kaiser Chiefs play “Live from London” at the 02 Brixton Academy, with the gig available in  15 countries. Tickets are £10.

On 5 December, Oasis frontman Liam Gallagher will live stream a performance broadcast from a boat sailing down the Thames. He’ll be performing tracks from his two No. 1 solo albums and his Oasis back catalogue.

Tickets are £16.50 and the event will be streamed across four different time zones.

Other bands live-streaming via MelodyVR include the Fontaines D.C on 23 November and Burna Boy on 18 November.

For a full list – and to purchase tickets – see below:


What a Carve Up!

This combination of murder-mystery and social satire is a streaming version of Jonathan Coe’s 1990s satirical novel of the same name. Featuring Alfred Enoch, Tamzin Outhwaite, Stephen Fry, Derek Jacobi, Rebecca Front, Celia Imrie and Griff Rhys Jones. Some actors appear on screen, others are voice-only, and the production makes use of video, graphics and archive footage.  Purists argue that hybrid productions like this aren’t really “theatre”.  But it’s had rave reviews from the critics.

Streaming until 29 November, suitable for age 16+ and tickets are £12.

Note that you have to book ahead and screening links activate at 00:01 on the date of your screening and expire 48 hours later.



Emilia, the triple Olivier award- winning play, is streaming until December 2. It’s based on the story of Emilia Bassano, said to be the first woman in England to assert herself as a poet back in Shakespearean times, and who was possibly, the “Dark Lady” of Shakespeare’s sonnets. The subject matter may sound a bit dry, but Emilia is a joyous experience (one of its Olivier Awards was for “best entertainment or comedy play”).  Its all-female cast is an inspiration.

Payment is what you can afford – anything from £5 up. The cash goes to the team who put together the show.

Note, it’s NOT a livestream, but an archive recording from the Vaudeville Theatre last year. So it wasn’t originally intended for a streaming audience and the sound’s a bit dodgy at times.  But still a fun and inspiring night.


The Flying Lovers of Vitebsk

From December 3-5, The Old Vic, Bristol is streaming a live production of The Flying Lovers of Vitebsk, which will also be offered On Demand later that month. The play, directed by Emma Rice (former artistic director of Shakespeare’s Globe) is based around the relationship between artist Marc Chagall and his wife Bella. It spans some of the most dramatic events of the 20th century, including anti-Jewish pogroms and the Russian Revolution.

The play will be performed WITHOUT social distancing; cast members will have a Covid test before forming a bubble before opening night.

Tickets from £20.


Original Theatre Company plays

Images above: Miriam Margoyles (left) and Amit Shah (right) are starring in short play Watching Rosie

This company has produced a slew of acclaimed online plays (it had a major hit with its online production of Birdsong earlier this year). It boasts that it’s been selected as  “critics pick” for streaming productions by the New York Times and The Wall Street Journal as well as virtually every national newspaper in the UK.  Its offerings for November and December include Apollo 13: the Dark Side of the Moon, The Croft and The Haunting of Alice Bowles as well as two mini-plays. Most of them have trailers, so you can have a taster of the production before you buy. You can then watch them as many times as you like within a set period of time.


Apollo 13

Available until 31 December. The buzz around this production, which marks the 50th anniversary of the almost-fatal NASA moon mission of the same name, has been considerable. Like “What a Carve-Up”, it mixes actors with newsreel footage and special effects. It’s garnered rave reviews from the nationals; The Daily Mail described it as “one giant leap for theatre…a stunning feat”.  Certainly the special effects are amazing. And it’s worth watching the You Tube videos to see how it was stitched together, with actors working with green screens and iPhones from their own homes.

Tickets £17.50. Running time 70 minutes

Trailer: youtube.com/watch?v=UD0-h8dnl-g

And the actors show you how it was made  youtube.com/watch?v=FGkDInNbW58

The Croft

A psychological new thriller with supernatural overtones, set in a remote Scottish dwelling. Starring Gwen Taylor (Barbara, A Bit of a Do, Coronation St), it’s based on a true story and is directed by Philip Franks (The Darling Buds of May.) This stage production was filmed for online just before lockdown.

Running time 105 minutes. Suitable for ages 13+

Tickets £10 until 31 December. Available online until 30 June 2021

You can watch a trailer here:


The Haunting of Alice Bowles

Available from 17 December- 28 February. Two You-Tubers uncover a mysterious grave in an abandoned churchyard. Based on a short story by MR James, it’s billed as a “chilling ghost story,” and stars Tamzin Outhwaite (Eastenders, New Tricks, Red Cap).

Running time 45 minutes, suitable for ages 15+. Available to stream from home from 17 December – 28 February.  Early bird tickets (bought before 30 November) £12.50. No trailer yet available.

Short plays

From 12-26 November Original Theatre is also offering two pre-recorded mini-plays about the Covid lockdown and its effects on the elderly and their families.

Watching Rosie is 15 minutes long and stars the wonderful Miriam Margolyes.

See trailer: originaltheatreonline.com/productions/3/watching-rosie

Mrs Goldie vs The World, starring Nicky Goldie.

It is 17 minutes long and is suitable for ages 14+. Both are free to view, although donations to specific charities are encouraged.


Kids at Christmas

Online Panto

4 December – 10 January Jack and the Beanstalk, starring former Blue Peter presenter Peter Duncan. Profits go to charity.

Tickets:  £20


Christmas Carol Concert

The international development charity Kids for Kids is presenting an online Christmas Carol Concert on 2 December featuring Queen’s Gate School Choirs, with Joanna Lumley providing one of the readings. Family ticket is £10 (minimum donation), the proceeds go to charity.


Christmas storytelling

On 20 December, the events company Fane features War Horse author Michael Morpurgo reading from some of his 150 books.

Tickets from £20.


A Christmas Carol

The Old Vic‘s socially distanced production of A Christmas Carol, starring Andrew Lincoln runs from 12-24 December.


“A Night in With” series

Images above: Stephen Fry, Margaret Atwood

Fane is offering a series of online events featuring various celebs in conversation.

There are also pre-recorded On Demand interviews with famous writers like Margaret Atwood.

For the full list of Fane online events see fane.co.uk/online-shows

Also still booking: For one Knight Only on 29 November: theatrical Knights and Dames Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, Ian McKellen and Derek Jacobi in conversation with Sir Kenneth Branagh


Happy viewing!

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Lockdown things to do – Mark 2

See also: St Michael’s auction fundraiser

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