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Review Roundup: STAGED Starring David Tennant and Michael Sheen - What Did the Critics Think?

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Review Roundup: STAGED Starring David Tennant and Michael Sheen - What Did the Critics Think?

Starring David Tennant and Michael Sheen, Staged (6x15) features the cast of a play - the cream of the crop of British acting talent - who are furloughed when their upcoming West End production is suddenly brought to a halt. The series follows the cast as they try their best to keep the rehearsals on track in lockdown.

Absurd and humorous in equal measure, Staged takes on the challenges of creating a drama in lockdown, on stage and off, with a line-up including Georgia Tennant, Lucy Eaton and Anna Lundberg.

Let's see what the critics are saying...

Matt Wolf, The New York Times: And though the impetus of "Staged" is the one-upmanship of its male leads, the impact of Covid-19 is felt, too, in shots of a weirdly still London and a subplot about an elderly neighbor of Sheen's who falls ill. (Visual tributes to Britain's National Health Service are in evidence as well.) At such moments, unstoppable comic energy gives way to contemplation as we recognize our strange times even as the artists lift our spirits.

Lucy Mangan, The Guardian: It's all a bit meta, but that's the joy of it. It depends on you knowing that Tennant and Sheen are friends in real life, so that you can fully enjoy the (one presumes) unscripted banter between them, particularly before and after the credits but also dotted through the "real" story of director Simon attempting to persuade them to rehearse a play for the West End despite being furloughed.

Louis Chilton, Independent: Scenes in Staged can feel a bit static at times. The dialogue is playfully theatrical in its use of language - as you might expect, Sheen and Tennant wring every last soupcon of satisfaction from phrases like "meaty timbre" and "bacchanalian embarrassment". It's also enjoyably foul-mouthed - one of the biggest laughs of the series comes from a cleverly abbreviated deployment of the word "c***". Sheen and Tennant appear frayed and pugnacious after weeks spent in lockdown; their arguments stem from CABIN FEVER as much as any inherent rivalry.

Christopher Stevens, Daily Mail: The sharpness of the script and the skill of the actors makes us feel as if we are eavesdropping on the affectionate bickering of two fed-up friends. It's a joy - and all six episodes are already available on iPlayer. Another joy of lockdown is the way it encourages the Beeb to screen local documentaries that wouldn't usually get an airing outside their own region.

Carol Midgley, The Times: In Staged David Tennant and Michael Sheen seemed delighted to self-caricature and send each other up, Tennant at one point even claiming Sheen's Wikipedia page called him a "c***". (I checked. It doesn't, but they should have written it in for an extra laugh.)

Gabriel Tate, Metro: If one of the best things about Good Omens was the heaven-and-hell double act of Michael Sheen and David Tennant, one of the worst was that it was a one-off series. So PRAISE THE LORD and Beelzebub in equal measure that they have been reunited, albeit over video conference, for this lightweight but entertaining six-part comedy that, in its depiction of actorly vanity, superstition and pretensions, only occasionally toppled into self-indulgence.

Paul T. Davies, British Theatre: It is an absolute joy, mainly because of the chemistry between the two leads, who not only get on with each other, but are so willing to send themselves up and revel in self-deprecation. Sheen is all beard and wild hair, distracted by the slightest noise, "The birds have returned to Port Talbot", a hermit in his kitchen and he comes across as an aggressive Paddington Bear, with a fixed stare that freezes the screen with disapproval. It's wonderful to hear Dylan Thomas and the Welsh language in the first episode, and it's clear his role is the more volatile character, Tennant appearing more willing to try things, to persuade his friend to have a go at keeping the script fresh. He is equally hilarious, seemingly needier and seeking approval, not coping very well in isolation.

Anita Singh, The Telegraph: The best thing about Staged (BBC Two) is that it only lasts 15 minutes. The format largely consists of two actors having meetings over Zoom, and anyone who has been forced to conduct work business in this way will know that not long after the quarter-of-an-hour mark you find yourself silently begging for the sweet release of death.

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