UK theaters have been closed since mid-March and, while plans are being put in place for a potential re-opening in July, one venue is looking to get ahead of the game with a socially distanced two-hander that will be played out to a virtual audience.
Claire Foy and Matt Smith will reprise their lead roles in Duncan Macmillan’s hit play Lungs next month at London’s Old Vic, with the production adapted to allow the actors’ to observe the two-meter distancing rule that is designed to stop the virus spread.
As theaters remain closed to the public until at least July, no audience will be present, but the show will be streamed live online to a max of 1,000 people per night, reflecting the venue’s regular capacity. Tickets will be priced at £10–£65 ($12-$80), mirroring regular prices, but viewers will be encouraged to donate as much as they can to support the theater.
The initiative marks the first major UK staging of a play adapted for the post-pandemic world and could set a precedent for other productions, at least while strict social distancing restrictions remain in place. Previously, theaters have been replaying older recorded plays to keep audiences entertained during the lockdown.
Lungs had been set for a New York staging at Brooklyn Academy of Music’s Harvey Theater for a limited run from March 25 – April 19, before theaters were shuttered stateside. It originally played a sold-out run at London’s Old Vic in 2019.
The play, set around the melting ice caps, overpopulation and political unrest, follows two people as they bring a baby into the world. Don’t expect scenes such as the one depicted in the above image to make the updated version.