The Original Theatre Company's production of The Habit of Art garnered rave reviews when it toured the UK in 2018 — and was due to reopen in the UK then New York, before Covid-19 struck it down. This week, however, audiences can watch it streamed online.
The play-within-a-play was written by Alan Bennett in 2009, and centres on a fictional rendezvous between poet WH Auden and composer Benjamin Britten. In The Habit of Art, Matthew Kelly is Fitz (the actor playing Auden), while David Yelland is the actor Henry (himself playing composer Benjamin Britten).
Bennett's play was awarded five stars from the Guardian, which praised 'a stunning cast and unshowy direction'. If you didn't have a chance to catch it in the theatre — or if you'd love to see it again — The Original Theatre Company is streaming The Habit of Art on its website at 8.15pm on Thursday 26 March.
The following evening, Friday 27 March — at 7.30pm — the same website is streaming its production of the new Philip Franks-directed play The Croft. Set in the remote Scottish Highlands, it tells the stories of three women from different eras; their lives intertwined by the croft's dark history.
Alastair Whatley, Artistic Director of The Original Theatre Company, said "Gaining access to these films is an extraordinary opportunity that has been permitted by the kind permissions of our writers Alan Bennett and Ali Milles, the acting companies, stage managers and creative teams."
Whatley added that those watching the live streams are encouraged to dress up, while The Original Theatre Company will be making 'play-appropriate drink suggestions' ahead of the shows.
Both plays are free to watch, although The Original Theatre Company stresses that it does not receive Arts Council support, and therefore suggests a minimum donation of £2.50.