Wednesday, December 6

Love in the Lockdown – The Telling

Filmed and directed entirely on Zoom and by Performers on their mobile devices, Rachel Stirling and Alec Newman feature in this new topical online play with music.

Presented by The Telling, written by Clare Norburn and directed by Nicholas Renton, ‘Love in the Lockdown’ follows Medieval Musician, Emilia (Stirling) and playwright, Giovanni (Newman) in the early stage of an intense lockdown relationship during the very start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Emilia and Giovanni met at a mutual friend’s dinner party just before lockdown started. They are forced to continue dating over Zoom and as their relationship develops, and as the couple get closer romantically, they start to work on a writing project together. Their project is a musical/theatrical piece based on ‘The Decameron’ by Boccaccio (a series of 100 stories told by young people in 1348 during The Black Death). As both the relationship and the project develop, the couple are faced with challenges, not only of their relationship surviving lockdown life, but also artistic and creative partnerships.

The first two episodes are nicely written. Norburn’s script is very heartfelt and somewhat nurturing. You instantly warm to the two on-screen characters, who feel very natural and honest. You want them to succeed not only in love but also in their work (excusing their terrible Italian pronunciation of Giovanni’s name and several other Italian words). After all, we all know that the pandemic has had a devastating impact on the creative industries and with this in mind it is impossible to watch without rooting for the pair to do well. Stirling particularly gives a warm and instantly likable performance as Emilia. 

There is something deeply personal and voyeuristic about this piece, being witness to the clumsy interactions and conversation of a new relationship. Norburn says that she was inspired to write the piece based on her own experiences of navigating a long-distance lockdown relationship which somehow makes it even more personal and intimate as the voiceover news headlines at the start of episode two lay a path for what became a long-haul journey of isolation and loneliness for many.

The episodes are overlaid with traditional, haunting, and very accomplished music pieces which were created and performed by Norburn’s music ensemble The Telling. A real treat for the ears and help to create depth to the work.

The first two episodes of ‘Love in the Lockdown’ are worth watching and are available now on You Tube with further episodes set to be released on anniversaries of key dates from the COVID-19 UK lockdown 1.0.

You can watch episodes here:

Reviewer: Alan Stuart Malin

Reviewed: 7th March 2021

North West End UK Rating: ★★★★