Canal Street Online Manchester

The Hired Man online

The Hired Man online

On Monday 15th June, The Oldham Coliseum, in conjunction with their co-producers Queens Theatre Hornchurch and Hull Truck Theatre, revived their revival of The Hired Man. This was a revival with a difference though, as, all theatres being dark for the foreseeable future, the performance was a You Tube streaming of a recording. It’s available for a week.

Queens Theatre hosted the premiere on their site, and it can be found here: Donations to all three theatres can be made as well.

It was a good performance - even if the opening number goes on just a bit too long – and the music tugs your emotions almost painfully at times. The performers double up as the orchestra too. All very good. You can even download a programme – a nice touch.

It would be odd to review a performance that’s not changed since though, so instead this is a review of watching theatre at home.

For me, the whole point of going to the theatre is to immerse yourself in the experience to the exclusion of everything else: The lights go down, the curtain rises, mobile phones are (we hope) silenced, and any passing traffic is a very muted rumble far away. If all is well, you, and everyone else in the auditorium, are totally absorbed, and you concentrate because you can’t hit the pause button.

At home it’s a bit different. Yes, you can turn off the phone and close the curtains, but external noise isn’t easily silenced, and your focus is limited by screen size and to whatever the camera is pointing. The ambience just isn’t there, and, although you possibly can now hit pause, theatre should not be the same as a box set – though I suppose if a performance turns out to be truly dreadful, it’s a lot easier to leave without disturbing others.

There are some advantages though: no queuing at the bar (you could even have a whole bottle of wine at your side with a proper glass) or for the toilet, and in these Covid-19 days the fortunately decreasing risk of catching the virus is avoided.

For me though part of the experience of going to the theatre is to be with other people, and those conversations with the temporary neighbours you’ll probably never see again are part of it.

The Coliseum has its  #YourColiseumNeedsYou tag. How about #WeNeedTheColiseumBack as a new one?

Paul Schofield for Canal St Onlne.

Published: 19-Jun-2020 (5914)

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