'Bard Overboard – A Global Pandemic Holiday Special', a farce performed by the Extra Credit Ensemble, came about through transforming Edinburgh Fringe Festival rehearsals into a more virtual theatrical experience. The company has explored the faux-sincerity of the corporate world, pretty impressively for a virtual performance.
We are 'Zoomed' into rehearsals of a forthcoming heart-warming commercial from conglomerate, Wonder World Cruises and Resorts. On-board actors, with no idea which country or part of the world they're in, are working on their script; with the avid eyes of Legal, PR and Corporate watching their every word.
Director Alexandra Haddad has done a brilliant job of capturing all of the clichés of a real cruise advert; with the upbeat music, endless smiles and caricatured stock images across the screen. The characters are introduced one by one, as they do their section for the commercial, making full use of the split screen functionality.
The piece has clearly been creatively thought through and well-executed, as all performances remain engaging and comedic. Our serious Shakespearean actor, Prince Charming (Harris Solomon – who also wrote the piece) keeps going on and on about his character's 'motivation' and 'given circumstances', in a very charismatic manner. In addition, our 'Prominent hotel guest Dan' (Joel Meyers) and his interaction with his mother and 'Benny', was clearly a highlight. 'Chief Disaster Litigation Liaison' Liam (Rupert Fennessy), as our Assistant Cruise Director, kept professional at all times and really understood the severity of the stakes for his character. For a piece which was originally live-streamed and reliant on Wi-Fi, I am really taken aback by the chemistry between the cast on screen, even at a distance. All performances remain bright, youthful and entertaining and I really did not want this to end!
In turn, the way the binary opposite worlds of corporate and the 'real' world collided was really eye-opening, and is a topic I'm glad the arts are commenting on. The commercial ends with a plea from performers for not just paid leave and healthcare, but an understanding of where on Earth they are. The audience are left to ask – where are they? Does the company care?
Overall, the piece was as dreamy as a luxury all-inclusive cruise trip across the world, not in a pandemic. Seamless direction and performances have created an entertaining treat for their audiences to uncover.
Season 2 of [email protected] is jam-packed with over fifty pieces from the realms of: stage, screen, music, comedy and more. All pieces were conceived and created in lockdown and can be viewed until the 31st January 2021 from the comfort of your own living room.