Screen favourites team up as theatre goes live again

Tuesday, 2nd June 2020, 1:39 pm
Updated Tuesday, 2nd June 2020, 1:40 pm
Matt Smith and Claire Foy at the 2017 Emmy Awards ceremony (picture: Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
Matt Smith and Claire Foy at the 2017 Emmy Awards ceremony (picture: Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

Live theatre returns to the stage at London’s Old Vic this month – in a manner never seen before.

Having starred to great acclaim together in The Crown as the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh, Claire Foy and Matt Smith will perform as ‘socially distanced’ version of Duncan Macmillan’s hit play Lungs.

Each performance of will be available for up to 1,000 people per night, along with with some matinees, replicating the venue’s usual audience capacity.

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Tickets will be priced as they are in its auditorium from £10 to £65.

And while all ‘seats’ offer the same view - from the comfort of people’s own homes - the theatre is asking audiences to give what they can to help support the venue, described as being in a “seriously perilous” financial situation by its artistic director, Matthew Warchus.

LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 17: Matt Smith (L) and Claire Foy walk onstage during the 70th Emmy Awards at Microsoft Theater on September 17, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

The production - during which Smith and Foy will observe the two-metre rule - is part of Old Vic: In Camera, a new artistic initiative. Lungs will be followed by a major series of rehearsed play-readings, all streamed live from the Old Vic stage with the empty auditorium as a backdrop.

A theatre spokesperson said: “Rekindling live performance in this irrepressible 202-year-old venue, albeit with minimal staging and accessible only via camera, is a genuine thrill for us.

“But this series is both an exciting creative experiment and also crucial in igniting the box office now all our usual channels of revenue have been entirely wiped out and we fight to preserve this beloved theatre for our audiences, surrounding schools and communities, staff, crew, and the myriad of writers, performers and creatives that work with us.

“We hope that you will join with us to support this new series and feel excited to be part of a live theatre community once again. We need your help in making sure that the Old Vic and our productions are still here to enjoy when our much-missed normal lives resume.”

Lungs is described as a “hilarious emotional rollercoaster of a play” and tells of a couple wrestling with life’s biggest dilemmas. The ice caps are melting, there’s overpopulation and political unrest - so  why on earth would someone bring a baby into this world?

Claire Foy and Matt Smith previously performed in the play in 2019. The production was lauded by audiences and critics, with Arifa Akbar of the Guardian stating: “Foy and Smith manage the switches of mood and tone with a virtuosity that verges on ostentatious, and there are very few off-moments in pace.”

The actors have an array of stage and screen credits. Smith will be remembered by millions for his stint as The Doctor in Doctor Who, succeeding David Tennant, while Foy’s credits include a much-praised portrayal of Anne Boleyn in Wolf Hall and roles in The NightWatch, Little Dorrit and The Lady in the Van.

Dates for the production, and details of future live streams as part of Old Vic: In Camera, have not yet been published.

Visit oldvictheatre.com for more information and to book tickets for the live screenings.