Reviewed by Jo Hardy
I love live theatre and it is one of the things I have missed the most during the lockdown. This was my first experience of an on demand / virtual show and I wasn’t sure what to expect. Logging in and accessing the show was very easy. From when I pressed play I could have three days access to the show, and it could be shared with other family members. I watched via my iPad but it can be viewed in many other ways including google chrome cast and Amazon fire.
I was pleased that there was a 4 minute countdown to the start of the show as this allowed me to get the sound at the right level. At the start of the show assurances were given that it had all been staged in a covid secure environment.
The Band Played On written by Chris Bush is a tribute to the incredible women of Sheffield. The show alternates between live music from local bands and artists and monologues of approximately 15 minutes all performed by 5 talented women who’s singing was just as good as their acting.
Although I was aware this was being performed to an empty theatre, through the use of effective staging and lighting it had a very intimate feel and the clever acting really drew me into the stories. The first monologue titled “Bunker Baby” is a young girls memories of going with her father to help him with his mission to build a fallout shelter which never really lived up to expectations.
The second titled “We’re Alright” was telling the tales of Sheffield’s political background through a woman growing up with a mother who had strong opinions. The other three monologues very cleverly made references to Sheffield’s connection to the origins of football, Jessica Ennis, the engineering industry and very sensitively handled the Hillsborough tragedy. The final monologue based on Sheffield being the first city of sanctuary to help the most vulnerable and told the story of a relationship breaking down right at the beginning of lockdown.
Not all the acting was done on the stage. Some of it was filmed back stage and in the seating area. All five characters were brought together at the end in an on line choir. I unexpectedly found the ending quite emotional and also uplifting.
Unfortunately at the end of the performance the cast did not get the applause they deserved. Sheffield can be proud of their history and their very talented women.
As the credits rolled I took time to look at all the jobs and unseen work that goes into a production and this gave me an idea of just how many people will of been out of work since the theatres had to close the doors. Buying access to this type of performance is such a great way to support an industry that gives us so much joy.
Available until the 28th March. Access to the show can be purchased through sheffieldtheatres.co.uk and costs £20. Running time is 1 hour 41 minutes.