Two Metres Apart is Greengage’s contribution to the world of virtual performances. It is one of many to come and it does not disappoint. As part of a charity event, with 20 percent of ticket sales going to the Campaign to end Homelessness, it promises to be an inspiring evening. The performance is split into three sections – a play, a monologue, and a concert – each performed by different artists.
The show itself takes place on Zoom, which serves as a virtual living room for most of us during this time. And there is something exciting about being in a virtual space full of strangers. Although being so far apart from each other, it does feel very personal to get an insight into peoples’ bedrooms, living rooms, and their approach to virtual theatre. Two Metres Apart is not as afar as the title suggests but actually very intimate.
The evening is curated by Jimmy Donny Cosgrove who welcomes us, quickly assures that the C-word won’t be mentioned during the performances, and then introduces clapping 2.0 through Zoom’s integrated feature that allows a raised hand.
And off we go into the first performance of the evening cynically titled Bring Out Your Dead. Eddie (Danny Kirrane), Pam (Tanya Reynolds) and Mary (Charlotte Hamblin) are meeting on Zoom for their weekly pub-quiz with this week’s theme being the Plague – or at least that is what Eddie had planned. But these things don’t always go to plan and so the comedy written by Hamblin and directed by Stella Powell-Jones explores the ridiculousness of it all. At its core lies the message that we have to stick together during this time, make the best of it, and look after our friends and family. As one of the first of its kind, Bring Out Your Dead made astonishing use of Zoom’s features and, in well-rehearsed style, managed to only show who and what the viewer was supposed to see.
After accepting their what I’m assuming was a standing ovation, the show moves onto the next performer. Zara Barrie performs her one-woman show “I finally found love but it’s trapped in the television” and other stories. She uses Zoom’s background feature with splendour as she talks about her journey of growing up and experiencing love and lust in its many facades – but always two metres apart. Apart from the one she loves, apart from what could be, and apart from herself. We learn that one day, just like her, we can overcome that distance and find closeness again, and most importantly, find ourselves.
Closing the show is a musical performance by Prach Boondiskulchok and his colleagues. The pianists and musicians present Boondiskulchok’s Inventions in Isolation of which he wrote one a day for one week as the lockdown was implemented. He was inspired by many, including J.S. Bach and lots of the inventions bear likeliness to his compositions. The pieces are played on different instruments, ranging from a piano from the eighteenth century to a beautiful violin, and a harpsichord.
Two Metres Apart is a wonderful example of how we can come together to create art, regardless of how far we actually are apart. It is not pretending to be something it is not, whether that is theatre or film, or digital performance. It is an entity on its own and the fact that Emily Ingram and Stella Powell-Jones of Greengage Ventures created this piece of art with the tools that all of us have at our fingertips is immensely inspiring. It is a stepping-stone in our strive towards giving the performing arts its voice back.
Two Metres Apart is playing online soon. For more information and tickets visit Greengage’s website.