P/REVIEW: View From The Sofa 18

Brian Butler July 24, 2020

As live theatre comes back bit by bit , there’s much in prospect but streaming is still alive and well.

Fane Online is a curated series of broadcasts linking  theatre, conversations and independent bookshops . Coming up is a filmed conversation between iconic LGBTQ+ author of  Tales of The City, Armistead Maupin talking to actor and activist Sir Ian McKellen.

You can buy two offerings – a standard ticket to watch the stream or a “book and ticket” package which gets you a signed copy of Maupin’s Logical Family: A Memoir. The event is broadcast on 12 August and available for 48 hours via Worldwide. More information at

Clinging to the Cornish cliffs , the Minack Open Air Theatre has announced a full summer season of socially distanced productions. These include David Mynne’s one-man performance of Dickens’ Great Expectations, a 2-week revival of the delightful Stones In His Pockets About a film company’s hilarious attempts to make a movie, and Stephen Tomkinson and Jessica Johnson in Willy Russell’s Educating Rita. The season will also feature Bec Applebee’s one-woman physical theatre show about escaped convict Mary Bryant. Full details at

Two treasures I found on BBC iplayer this week : first Dames of Classic Drama at the BBC, is a fascinating look back at the careers of Dames Judi Dench, Helen  Mirren, Eileen Atkins, Diana  Rigg , Maggie Smith and non-Dame Vanessa Redgrave, from archive tv material. View it here

And second a two-part series Shakespeare In Italy by Francesco da Mosta,  looks at the origins of plays like Julius Caesar, The Tempest, Antony and Cleopatra and Romeo and Juliet and how the Bard cleverly transposed the political and religious issues of the Elizabethan age to save being executed for treason.

Finally , Moment of Grace is a recreation on film of Bren Gosling’s play about Diana, Princess of Wales’ historic  visit to Britain’s first AIDS unit in 1987, where she shook a patient’s hand without wearing gloves and in doing so triggered a momentous shift in public and media perceptions of people living with HIV and AIDS. The project is a partnership between the Actors Centre and the National HIV Story Trust.

The play’s three characters – a patient, a nurse and a fireman estranged from his son give their different perspectives of the day. Bren Gosling said: The story is a key part of our recent queer and collective history, which is in danger of being forgotten. In the midst of our current pandemic times, it reminds us of how acts of kindness can effect a sea-change in attitudes towards the marginalised, stigmatised  and oppressed ; it gives us hope” Details on