Due to appear at the Oxford Playhouse with new show Luna, Roustabout Theatre’s run was cancelled due to the pandemic.
The heart-warming, daft, and “very funny” play for those age five and above, celebrates the wonderful creativity that so many have shown during lockdown, and the nonsense that comes with any attempt to communicate online.
Written and directed by Toby Hulse, who has a long association with Oxford Playhouse, it depicts the ever-grumpy Ben, whose friends and relatives can’t cheer up, even on Zoom.
Pinching an idea from Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol and dressing up as figures from Ben’s past, present and future, they teach him that although we may be physically apart, we can still stay connected.
“These are strange times, but it’s really important that we stay in touch with each other. That’s the moral of the story!” says writer/director, Toby Hulse. “So I hope that It’s Not All Zoom and Gloom provides an opportunity for households to gather together for a shared experience.
“So expect blips, glitches, surprise cameos, and maybe even some other worldly interference!”
Shaelee Rooke one of the performers says: “There’s real scope for us to be inventive here. Plus, who knows what curve balls we’ll be thrown by the technology? That’s all part of the fun.”
“So it will be up to us to hastily improvise our ghosts, complete with costumes and props that we find lying about our house,” she says.
Toby adds: “Theatre has always responded to, commented on, and challenged the times in which it is made,’ says Toby Hulse. ‘This is a light-hearted comedy for all the family, but it is also an exploration of the new ways in which we are making art.”
How did It’s Not All Zoom and Gloom come about then? “While it was tempting to ‘wait for things to go back to normal’ we didn’t know when that would be, or what the new normal is going to look like?
“In the meantime, we must embrace the wonderful technology available to us and do our best to stay in touch, tell loved ones that we are thinking of them, laugh at the wonderful times we’ve spent together and remind each other that they will happen again,” Shalee says.
“The question was how to then make theatre during a global pandemic about these key enjoyments? After all, a defining feature of theatre is that it’s performed live in the same room as the audience sitting in close proximity to strangers.
One answer is to stream recorded versions of stage productions, but there is always the sneaking feeling that it’s ‘not quite the same’. Another is to produce and broadcast work on Zoom but there are limitations and technical issues to consider that can interrupt what is being performed.
”So (It’s not all) Zoom & Gloom will be streamed LIVE via Roustabout’s Youtube Channel on June 13 & 14. A recording will then be available to watch online at http://www.roustabouttheatre.co.uk
Tickets are available for free or by donation. https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/its-not-all-zoom-and-gloom-a-new-play-by-toby-hulse-tickets-106645776388