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Review: THEATRE IN TIMES OF CRISIS, Methuen Drama, Bloomsbury

BWW reviews the new collection of 20 scenes for the stage in troubled times

Review: THEATRE IN TIMES OF CRISIS, Methuen Drama, Bloomsbury

Review: THEATRE IN TIMES OF CRISIS, Methuen Drama, Bloomsbury The release of Dom O'Hanlon's Theatre in Times of Crisis: 20 Scenes for the Stage in Troubled Times is certainly timely, even without COVID. Written in response to the Coronavirus pandemic, the collection of 20 play excerpts compiled by the Senior Commissioning Editor of Methuen Drama explores the theme of crisis in plays previously staged.

Theatre in Times of Crisis features work from a diverse range of voices: Edward Bond, Mojisola Adebayo, Sudha Bhuchar, Gurpreet Kaur Bhatti, Zoe Cooper, Frances Ya-Chu Cowhig, Tim Crouch, Inua Ellams, James Graham, Tanika Gupta, Hannah Khalil, Morgan Lloyd Malcolm, Alistair McDowall, Vinay Patel, Lucy Prebble, Philip Ridley, Christopher Shinn, Simon Stephens, Chris Thorpe, Laura Wade, and Anne Washburn.

Edward Bond's introduction explores the role of drama in society - both on and off stage. He notes how the Coronavirus crisis is showing up far more than just a country's inability to contain an infectious disease.

Rather than ask playwrights to write something in response to the many crises of 2020, O'Hanlon asked contributors to find something from their existing collection of work that represented a character in crisis. From familial to political, the book certainly brings new stories to the reader.

O'Hanlon conducted interviews with the playwrights involved over Zoom to pull out their thoughts on the industry and how their work speaks into the current situation.

The interviews are longer than the actual scene excerpts in some places, so the scripts feel more of an afterthought than the main event of the book. That said, it is interesting to hear the different takes on the role of "crisis" on stage and in society.

Scenes range from relationship breakdowns to rallying cries of protest. From Adebayo's Black Lives Matter-inspired piece, The Interrogation of Sandra Bland, to Lloyd Malcolm's Emilia, there's something for everyone. The overviews and interviews give the reader enough information to appreciate the scenes out of context.

It might not be the most soothing read during lockdown, but if you're looking for some catharsis, Theatre in Times of Crisis is just book to dip into to view the multifaceted nature of crisis and how it has been portrayed on our stages.

Theatre in Times of Crisis is now available in e-book and paperback formats

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