Living Newspaper – Edition Three at the Royal Court Theatre Online
The concept of Living Newspaper is inspired by the US-based Federal Theatre Project, an initiative designed to employ artists during the Great Depression. The Royal Court production returns with Edition Three, and work from more than 200 freelancers and 60 writers.
New Order (Margaret Perry) sees a woman selling a variety of everyday products. She speaks calmly, though her words are punctuated with an air of urgency and panic. The more the audience buys, the more she is buried under paper. Lockdown saw many online purchases, while people attempted to fill the void created by the pandemic.
Zain Dada’s Emily (Glitched) in Paris is a sobering satirical take on the hit Netflix series and one of the standouts of Edition Three. She romanticises Paris, but waiter Sameer begins recounting the many cases where civilians were killed, whether through French colonisation or the more recent 1961 Paris massacre; these latter deaths were not accounted for until 1998, after 37 years of denial. Sameer’s words are especially haunting while Edith Piaf’s Je Ne Regrette Rien plays in the background, and the question still stands: “Secularism hasn’t killed anyone, right?” – as if “liberté, egalité, fraternité” is not for all.
A father is diagnosed with terminal illness in Eulogy for a Dead Life, a moving piece on the passing of a loved one. Sukh Ojla depicts the mourning daughter particularly well, describing the feeling, “Like you’re alive. But not alive,” and genuinely captures the complex feelings of mourning.
Rebecca Pritchard’s She Blows Ltd takes place in a seemingly normal salon, uniquely portrayed with dolls, rather than actors, negating the need for touching and remaining safely distanced. Things soon take a disturbing turn when the customers are killed one by one. Through excellent editing, a saw comes down on the doll while a stream of blood flows simultaneously from the client’s head.
A Fascist’s Guide to Democracy is also memorable. Tony Jayawardena’s monologue is executed with precision and humour, while Anuparma Chandresekhar’s writing practically leaps off the screen.
A man and woman are on a first date in Chloe Moss’s What Were You Hoping For. He dominates the date, cutting her off at each attempt. Another highlight, this is a quirky look at the challenges of dating and the delicate balance required.
The final notable piece is Agony Edgar by Anthony Nielsen. A homeless man (Tom Fisher) is interviewed off-screen. Edgar has taken refuge behind the Royal Court and responds calmly to strangers’ trivial questions. He has had a very difficult life, and Fisher’s realistic approach is moving, especially in the last few minutes, where he passes away almost imperceptibly.
LIving Newspaper – Edition Three‘s short sections are thought-provoking, and it is interesting to see what the writers and freelancers have created during the past year (though a lot of the work was read off visible scripts, giving a rather incomplete feel).
Living Newspaper – Edition Three is on at the Royal Court Theatre from 29th March until 11th April 2021. For further information visit the theatre’s website here.