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Unprecedented - digital plays announced

OLIVIER Award-winning Headlong and BAFTA award-winning Century Films are presenting Unprecedented, an intimate response to the radical way our world changed when lockdown was announced on March 23, 2020.

With theatres going dark, and much of the world entering a state of isolation, Headlong and Century Films set out to explore how theatre can be made during, and about, the Covid-19 pandemic. Read more here and here.

Unprecedented was conceived, written, filmed and produced in lockdown. Rehearsals took place over Zoom; props, costumes, lighting and set were sourced or made by the cast themselves, and the series was shot in homes across the country using digital conferencing technology.

Eleven of the digital plays will be broadcast on BBC Four across three nights (May 26 to May 28 at 10pm) with all fourteen available to stream on BBC iPlayer as part of BBC Arts’ Culture in Quarantine initiative.

The series includes:

Viral by James Graham

Directed by Ola Ince, it stars Saoirse-Monica Jackson, Laurie Kynaston, Archie Madekwe, and Stuart Thompson.

I’d never even heard of ‘Zoom’ until two days ago

After schools shut, and A Levels are postponed, three teenagers use lockdown to come up with the next big viral craze.

Penny by Charlene James

Directed by Holly Race Roughan, it stars Lennie James.

If one more person talks to me about social distancing – don’t you know that’s my life?

Ray has been moved into a hotel for the foreseeable future, yet he knows that survival is a lot more complicated than having a roof over your head.

Going Forward by John Donnelly

Directed by Blanche McIntyre, it stars Paul Chahidi, Frances Grey, Lisa Kerr, Enyi Okoronkwo, Boadicea Ricketts, Sid Sagar, Gyuri Sarossy, Kiruna Stamell, Amy Trigg, Dickon Tyrrell, Gabby Wong and Sargon Yelda.

Sorry, Alastair, if we all just start shouting things out, it’ll be absolute chaos

When team meetings move online, an under-pressure team leader takes drastic measures to make sure targets are met.

Romantic Distancing by Tim Price

Directed by Jeremy Herrin, it stars Inès De Clercq and Arthur Darvill.

It’s just a shit time to be starting something new with someone. What do you think?

Love in the time of coronavirus: can technology bridge the emotional gap as well as the geographical?

Safer at Home by Anna Maloney

Directed by Brian Hill, it stars Gemma Arterton, Geraldine James and Rory Keenan.

He’s making a fuss of you, I hope?

As families and couples are forced into isolation, we see Mike taking pride in looking after his pregnant partner, Ellie. Mike’s mother, Betsy, is delighted, she’s extremely fond of Ellie; but she starts to see things about their relationship that unsettle her.

House Party by April De Angelis

Directed by Holly Race Roughan, it stars Patricia Allison, Risteárd Cooper, Gabriel Harland, Cecilia Noble, James Norton, Rhashan Stone, Meera Syal, Olivia Williams and Fenella Woolgar.

Bloody virus. Now we have to interact with the neighbours

A street in South London get together on ‘Houseparty’ for a virtual drinking session in the first week of isolation, but not everyone is in the mood for a party…

Grounded by Duncan Macmillan

Directed by Jeremy Herrin, it stars Michael Elwyn, Arlo Dollimore, Katherine Parkinson and Alison Steadman.

We’re not teenagers. We’re not grounded.

Liz is stressed by her parents’ cavalier attitude to the virus. Their age and health conditions put them heavily at risk. However, when overcome by the stress of her work, Liz is the one who needs looking after.

Fear Fatigue by Prasanna Puwanarajah

Directed by Brian Hill, it stars Esh Alladi, Natalie Dew, Paterson Joseph, Rory Kinnear, Jodie McNee and Anna Madeley.

A lot has happened in the past week that… I never thought I’d see.

Based on conversations with NHS workers in March 2020, Fear Fatigue documents the feelings and fears of frontline staff in the days and weeks before the Coronavirus lockdown.

Kat and Zaccy by Deborah Bruce

Directed by Deborah Bruce, it stars Monica Dolan and Alex Lawther.

Everyone’s child has come home except mine!

Zac is reluctant to come home from university during lockdown; how long can he ignore his mother’s emotional pleas for his return?

The Unexpected Expert by Matilda Ibini

Directed by Debbie Hannan, it stars Saida Ahmed, Lucianne McEvoy and Golda Rosheuvel.

I am still the exception – still the exception to humanity

This crisis will have a huge impact on Roxy’s social care package. The Local Authority thanks her for her understanding, yet she feels significantly misunderstood.

The Night After by Josh Azouz

Directed by Ned Bennett, it stars Kathryn Hunter and Marcello Magni.

The sex has improved.

A couple in their sixties try to make contact with the outside world. Is it a distress signal? Or a message to a specific loved one? Greek Gods, a noose, and the past all threaten to overwhelm them. A touching tale of toast, taboos and toddlers.

Central Hill by Nathaniel Martello-White

Directed by Nathaniel Martello-White, it stars Julian Barratt, Erin Doherty and Abraham Popoola.

Remember, this is a comedy

Coronavirus flings a couple into a long-distance relationship. A freelance actor cannot afford to eat. Ginger and toilet paper have become the most sought-after items on the planet. A likely farce, or a horror movie waiting to happen?

Everybody’s Talkin’ by Chloe Moss

Directed by Caitlin McLeod, it stars Denise Gough Sue Johnston, Rochenda Sandall and Rebekah Staton.

I thought you said this would be just like being together

Liz, Rebecca and Katherine are full of ideas for their mother: Facebook Pilates, Zoom Art Classes, FaceTime therapy… anything to help her feel connected.

Batshit by Jasmine Lee-Jones

Directed by Tinuke Craig, it stars Kae Alexander.

and when you are gone there will be nothing

no morgue memorial memory song…

not even the vague embittered memory of what’s been

It’s 2021. The global pandemic continues to sweep the earth. In the midst of massive loss, grief and mourning, many have searched for a party to blame – with some civilians taking justice into their own hands. As ceaseless chaos sweeps the earth, shit is well and truly about to hit the fan…”