Review: Scenes for Survival - The One with the Lockdown, National Theatre of Scotland

It’s safe to say that lockdown has been a pretty intense situation – weeks on end, indoors, with the same people. What if you’re a family balancing work and education, never spending this much time together until now? Or what if you’re two individuals, friends or lovers? You really don’t want to rock the boat knowing that you’re going to have to attempt to live in harmony with each other for the foreseeable future. 

In Meghan Tyler’s new digital short, two friends and flatmates find themselves in a situation that could make or break their relationship. When Ash kisses Charlie, who knows what will happen next. The One with the Lockdown is the latest addition to the Scenes for Survival collection, produced by the National Theatre of Scotland.

Beginning with a re-enactment of the Friends opening credits, you know you’re in for a fun ride. Tyler’s fast-paced dialogue hits the ground running, quickly getting to the climax of the scene, although it takes a moment to get used to the quirky comedic style. Full of puns, it’s clear these flatmates have developed their own language over the past few weeks – very relatable. Hitting all the lockdown clichés with discussions of Duolingo and re-watching Friends, this script is full of quick banter and fantastic one-liners such as “You’re as straight as a Live Love Laugh cushion.”

Mirren Wilson – A sketch inspired by the piece

There’s something about the delivery that struggles to avoid feeling awkward on screen, maybe because it’s quite a heightened energy piece in an intimate setting. It does feel a little overdramatic and at points, cringey, but it is genuinely funny. Directed by Leonie Rae Gasson, the pace is brilliantly racy and the moment of the kiss is timed to perfection, letting the audience enjoy the characters’ two opposite reactions.

Oliver Bennet as Charlie is dry, speedy and direct whilst Martin Donaghy is thoughtful and tender as Ash. They work well on screen with their differences in personality, which adds to the hilarity of the scene. Each character brings their own background to the situation as they reveal their sexuality struggles with depth and gentleness, so it’s also rather moving and you’re rooting for them in the end. All of the action does seem a little too anticipatory and staged, which is jarring, but it flows well and the two performers are very likeable.

The One with The Lockdown is a raw but raucous ride that’ll surely put a smile on your face. It’s a fun snapshot into the quiet chaos of lockdown. Who knows how many relationships will have formed during this time? Perhaps the bonds we’ve made with friends, flatmates and families will be stronger than ever before. But then again, perhaps not.

The One with the Lockdown is streaming on BBC Scotland’s iPlayer. For more information, see the National Theatre of Scotland website.