Amid the COVID-19 pandemic that has caused widespread disruption around the world, the importance of streaming services has been more critical than ever to keep people entertained. With cinemas shut in the U.S. and the U.K., among others, new releases such as “Onward” have found themselves available online much sooner than expected, while postponed releases like “The Lovebirds” are moving to Netflix unexpectedly.
The theatre industry is also suffering from closures around the world – including the postponement of the 75th Tony Awards – but the U.K. National Theatre has found a unique way to keep fans pre-occupied during these troubling times. Several productions will be made available for free on YouTube beginning April 2, with the National Theatre’s official website listing the plays coming out in the first month.
“One Man, Two Guvnors” will be the first to stream, a comedy that won James Corden the Tony Award for Best Leading Actor in 2012 as well as nominations in six other categories. It tells the farcical story of a man who is employed by two separate men and tries his best to keep them apart to avoid either finding out that he is working for the other.
Included in Variety’s reporting of the news is the following quote from the theatre’s executive director Lisa Burger:
“Our ambition at the National Theatre is to create work which is challenging, entertaining and inspiring and we’re committed to continuing that through these difficult times.”
“Jane Eyre” will begin streaming April 9, a reimagining of Charlotte Brontë’s famous novel, while “Treasure Island” will stream from April 16 and is based on the work from Robert Louis Stevenson. The final play streaming in April will be “Twelfth Night,” which features Tamsin Greig in William Shakespeare’s classic.
It’s been common practice for the National Theatre to screen productions in cinemas, but releasing them for free digitally in a way that everybody can access them is an unprecedented and exciting move.
Below is the trailer for “One Man, Two Guvnors,” which the National Theatre has released on their official YouTube channel to build up excitement and buzz for its digital release.