The Isolation Stories
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With the theatres dark now for some considerable time to come a new way of telling entertaining stories is emerging during this lockdown. Flexing their creative muscles writers are beginning to breathe a new lease of life into these challenging conditions and work remotely using a combination of Zoom, mobile phones, and other family members of the actor’s household who are also given the task of acting as inexperienced technical crew.
One leading the field is Oscar nominated writer/producer Jeff Pope, who in a very short period of time, has put together a quartet of short snapshots covering many aspects of how the global pandemic is affecting individual people’s lives.
Up first was Mel depicting the isolation of a first time Mum excluded by her family, facing the imminent birth alone. Sheridan Smith, herself not far off giving birth to her own first child, is superb as Mel. She gives a powerful, emotional, and often tearful portrayal of the loneliness and anxiety experienced in this fearful situation.
The second story Ron and Russell sees a former convict isolating with his seriously ill and disapproving father who is suffering from the virus and has to find a way to support him. This is excellently handled by father and son Robert and Tom Glenister.
Third is Mike and Rochelle – a paranoid hypochondriac seeking help via video link with his therapist. Darren Boyd admirably plays the uneasy, distraught Mike with Angela Griffin the calm professional but as their chat evolves their roles are almost reversed!
Finally, Karen features a single Dad caring for the children, coping with home schooling and refusing contact with his ex-wife until his father-in-law drops by unexpectedly in an effort to ease the conflict and allow this children access to their mother. Eddie Marsan and two of his sons Blu and Bodhi shine in this moving storyline with David Threlfall acting as Grandad Brian.
All four of these sensitive mini scenarios totally capture different aspects of the effects this challenging period in our lives is having on various members of society and incorporates a whole range of issues being experienced from the stockpiling of toilet rolls, the Thursday night clap for the NHS workers, Tik Tok, cabin fever, over eating and the overwhelming help and kindness being shown by society as a whole.
Taking into account this has all been done while not only adhering to the strict rules of social distancing but has been filmed by family household members who deserve full credit for an amazing effort. A new experience and a wonderful achievement from all involved that is greatly appreciated in these unprecedented times.
Reviewer: Jill Lawrie