The Old Vic Theatre’s In Camera Performance
I joined the paying audience for the first broadcast of the Old Vic’s innovative live stream of their production of Lungs with Claire Foy and Matt Smith performing the play in front of the cameras but in the empty auditorium of the theatre. As I tuned in via my laptop and waited for the start, I heard through my headphones the background buzz of an audience, interrupted by the five and three minute warnings before curtain. I was surprisingly excited to feel part of this live event.
Here are a few of my observations from the performance and of the play after seeing it again:
George and I talked about the distinctive quality of the dialogue, and I was struck even more forcefully by the sheer pace of it hearing it live. The opening exchanges between the couple as they stand in the Ikea queue are astonishingly sharp. The energy of it is mesmerising, and you see in practice how two people who know each other so well interweave their patterns of thought and speech.
I was also reminded in the opening moments of their performances, how funny the play is. We talked a lot during the episode about the serious issues that the play raises, but perhaps less than we could have about how entertaining the repartee between them is, and how spot on the observations of daily life are.
We did remark during the podcast on the change in the rapid-fire dialogue when she embarks on the first long speech in the play, as she tries to process her thoughts about possible motherhood. Claire Foy delivers this beautifully. One can’t but be in awe at the way she maintains the insistent rhythm of the speech, her thoughts flowing out of her in one long, live stream, many unfinished but all distinct and connected.