Our Editor’s Streaming Recommendations

With some of the UK going back into lockdown and most of our theatres not re-opening anytime soon, the future of our industry continues to be uncertain. 

However, the main purpose of the theatre industry is to provide entertainment, which with these continued closures, means we are going to be deprived of any entertainment on our gorgeous stages for the foreseeable. Therefore, I thought I would make a list of some accessible content on streaming services for our readers to watch.  

As much as I have tried, not all of my recommendations are theatre related.

Free trials are available for all the streaming services available below. 

MOVIES 

Eurovision: The Story of Fire Saga (Netflix UK)- 

Right, bear with me here. Yes, it is no critical masterpiece, but if you are in your bed just wanting a feel-good movie to watch before going to sleep then this absolute cheese fest of a film is for you. With the majority of the film being set in Edinburgh (in the SSE Hydro which is actually in Glasgow), this movie musical does well to depict our capital (minus the arena positioning botch up). The musical numbers in this movie are actually pretty decent, if you want an example of this then check out the video below: 


Mamma Mia/Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again (Netflix UK) – 

ABBA’s feel good movie musical double feature, is iconic. It doesn’t matter if you have already seen them 100 times, you know you want to watch the two films all over again! The stage show is a West End and Broadway favourite and quickly the two movie musicals entered the hearts of millions. It could be because of Meryl Streep’s brilliant performance in the first film, Pierce Brosnan’s butchering of ‘SOS’, Julie Walters & Christine Baranski singing ‘Angeleyes’ or was it Colin Firth & Stellan Skarsgård doing the titanic pose during ‘Dancing Queen’ in the sequel? 

These movies are cherished and are an excellent example of why musicals are great to raise spirits during a pandemic. 


The Truman Show (Netflix UK) –  

‘The Truman Show’ is a classic, one which really shows the great acting talents of Jim Carrey. The premise of this movie is unlike any other, it follows an insurance salesman as he discovers his whole life is actually a reality TV show. It’s lighthearted family entertainment which really is the kind of thing you want to watch to keep you positive during these times. Jim Carrey’s comic portrayals should be prescribed to people during these times.  

Even though it didn’t make the top ten, for those interested ‘The Mask’ is also currently available on Netflix UK. This film is one of the recommendations that isn’t theatre related, but is bloody fantastic. 


What We Did on Our Holiday (Amazon Prime) – 

This is once again another film that is not related to theatre. However, this film does star some of Scotland’s best stage talent, with David Tennant and Billy Connolly leading this oddly heartwarming family comedy. The story basically follows Doug (David Tennant) and Abi (Rosamund Pike) as they head to Doug’s brother’s (Ben Miller) birthday celebrations up in Scotland. Doug and Abi are separated, which only their kids really know, so they are hoping their little ones do not reveal this to the rest of the holiday. But they have spent too long worrying about themselves to realize that something is wrong with Granddad (Billy Connolly). This story is hilarious, has some really nice moments and it is certainly different from your normal family comedy but it is still a great little film which is worth a watch. 


Hamilton (Disney Plus) –  

‘Hamilton’ has taken the world by storm for the last few months due to its premiere on Disney Plus. This musical is superb, the cast, the writing, the direction, the lighting and set design are all superb. This recording of the musical really does well to capture every moment on stage, it tries hard to give its audience the best experience, as if it was in the theatre with them. 

For my full review on this movie, check out this link: https://theatrescotland.co.uk/2020/07/07/hamilton-the-musical-disney-movie-review/ 


Get Duked (Amazon Prime)- 

Get Duked is an original film on Amazon Prime. If you’re looking for a laugh and some really trippy scenes, then look no further, get duked! The story follows a bunch of neds, who participate in the Duke of Edinburgh Award. As they venture out into the Scottish wilderness, they bump into the Duke of Edinburgh, who then begins to hunt them. This bizzare film has some really great moments, and is different from the norm of cinema created in Scotland.  


Room (Netflix UK)- 

No, not the infamous Tommy Wiseau film ‘The Room’. This motion picture is a drama which features Brie Larson as Ma and a debut performance from Jacob Tremblay as Jack. It follows a mother and son who have been held captive in an enclosed space for seven years. This is a bleak emotional drama, however the direction from Lenny Abrahamson is outstandingly creative and the screenplay from the original author of the award-winning novel, Emma Donoghue has you hooked on what’s going to happen next. 

In case you’re wondering how this movie is related to theatre, Dundee Rep created a musical version of the novel. The script was written by Emma Donoghue, directed by Cora Bissett, with music and lyrics by Cora Bissett and Kathryn Joseph.  


Kinky Boots the Musical (Broadway HD) – 

The West End recording of ‘Kinky Boots’ is in my opinion more entertaining than ‘Hamilton’, I know, this maybe an unpopular opinion. However, the story of ‘Kinky Boots’ is one which is designed as a tonic to really bring you joy. The songs are uplifting, have a hell of a lot of character and profoundness. The story is one of acceptance, the dialogue and plot is so accessible to level with and this helps the audience, no matter if they are in a theatre or living room, to connect with this production. 

If you have not seen this musical, I cannot recommend it enough. 



 BlacKkKlansman (Netflix UK) – 

BlacKkKlansman is a thought provoking and highly enjoyable film from Spike Lee. Starring John David Washington and Adam Driver. This film based on a true story in the 1970s follows African American cop Ron Stallworth, as he infiltrates the KKK, by joining the organization. Yes, this is a true story. It is a thrilling and very educational film which shows how African Americans and white Americans work together to take down fascism. This is not theatre related but just a superb movie which I cannot recommend enough. 


Les Misérables – The Staged Concert (Amazon Video: PAY TO VIEW ONLY) 

Digital theatre hasn’t exactly been scarce over lockdown with loads of new shows becoming available in the last seven months, the highlight of theatre related content that has come out during lockdown is this production. This concert version of Les Misérables is simply stunning. Of course, it’s returning to London later in the year for a socially distant version with the same cast. Oh, and the cast by the way are simply divine and the way it’s staged is so simplistic yet has a high production value. For this specific content you will need to purchase it on amazon video or, DVD/Blu-ray. I would highly recommend you purchase this unbelievable production. It will definitely fill your theatrical needs!  

Click here for my full review. 


Marvel Cinematic Universe (Disney Plus) – 

No this is not theatre related unless you want me to relate it back to the massive musical flop that was ‘Spiderman: Turn Off the Dark’. In fact, no I’m not going to do that because it was horrific. But on Disney Plus, if you have never seen a superhero film or haven’t indulged in Marvel for a while or ever, then pretty much all of the Marvel films from ‘Iron Man’ to ‘Avengers: Endgame’ is available for you to watch anytime you want.  

I can confirm I am not one of those critics or creatives who hate superhero films. Why? Well because some of the biggest directors and actors/actresses of the 21st century have created some amazing and creative films/characters within the superhero genre. Don’t believe me? Watch Logan, The Dark Knight, Guardians of The Galaxy (1&2), Thor: Ragnarok and any of the Russo brother Marvel films, they are my favourites. 


TV SHOWS 

Encore (Disney Plus) – 

Most average theatre fans will have no doubt been involved in at least one school show during their time at high school. Well imagine twenty years on being asked to re-create that show with the exact same cast, this time with a professional director, musical director, choreographer and stage designer. I know it seems crazy to think about doesn’t it? Well that’s exactly what happens in ‘Encore’, which is exactly why I cannot recommend this TV show enough. It’s so heartwarming and emotional to watch these adults reignite their love of theatre which seems to have left them over time. 


 

Kevin Bridges: The Brand New Tour (Amazon Prime) – 

Seeing as this doesn’t really count as a film, I thought I would include Kevin Bridge’s most recent recording of his brilliant comedy tour on the TV Show section. Kevin Bridges is the epitome of Scottish humor, his scope of the world is brutally honest, and he really does well to keep the audience chuckling, if not laughing hysterically throughout this great routine. Even if you aren’t Scottish, you will be able to relate to Bridges’ superb outlook and the way he transposes that into comedy. 


The Morning Show (Apple TV) –  

This is my favourite television show on this list. As much as ‘The Morning Show’ isn’t related to theatre it shows a scarce look at what happens when a respected member of the entertainment industry is ousted for sexual harassment. Jennifer Aniston as Alex Levy and Reece Witherspoon as Bradley Jackson give the performances of their careers. As two women trying to swim through the corruption of a man’s world in order to do the right thing, or at least keep their jobs. Steve Carrell gives a disturbingly excellent performance as Mitch Kessler, also Mark Duplass as Chip Black stands out for his layered and gripping portrayal.  

Really do watch this show, even just get Apple TV’s free trial only for this show. 


Hollywood (Netflix UK)- 

This is the best series released in 2020, in my opinion. The series was created by Ryan Murphy, stars stage’s finest Patti LuPone, with Laura Harrier, Jeremy Pope, Darren Criss, Holland Taylor, Jim Parsons and David Corsenwet. The story follows a diverse group of aspiring actors and filmmakers in post-World War II Hollywood trying to make it big – no matter the cost. This show will make you laugh, cry and gasp. It’s beautiful and it’s the best thing Ryan Murphy has produced. 


Life (BBC iPlayer)- 

Written by British playwright Mike Bartlett Life is a beautiful realist look at people’s dissatisfactions in life. The story follows the interweaving stories of Gail, Belle, David, and Hannah as they all encounter new and disruptive influences in their live.  The series is set in a house in Manchester, England, UK, divided into four flats.  This series also acts partly as a sequel to Bartlett’s critically acclaimed series Doctor Foster which featured the character Belle played by Victoria Hamilton. If you want something with interesting engaging storylines and beautiful characterization. This is the one for you. 


They’ve Gotta Have Us (Netflix UK) –  

Once again not theatre related, however it is an insightful look from black creatives and artists into the evolution of how black people have been portrayed in cinema. It also shows how black people have worked to revolutionize Hollywood into being more accepting and diverse through film making. If you are interested in film, want to work as a creative, producer or artist in any sense then I would highly recommend you watch this to truly understand the battle and journeys black people have went through to get to where they are today in cinema. 


Umbrella Academy Season One & Season Two (Netflix UK)- 

Okay we’re sneaking this in here because the soundtrack features an instrumental version of The Phantom of the Opera. See! It links to theatre! Okay, not really but Umbrella Academy is simply brilliant. It’s a great superhero series that has well rounded interesting characters, superb style and direction, plus Robert Sheehan. Yes, Robert Sheehan is a valid point to why any content is good. Trust us, this is a brilliant series. 


Episodes (Netflix UK)- 

This TV show is so underrated it’s ridiculous. Do you love Friends? Yes? Then this show is written by David Crane, one of the creators and writers of Friends. Not only that but it stars Matt Le Blanc as himself. Interested? Okay I’ll tell you more. It follows a couple of British TV producers (Tasmin Greig & Stephen Mangan), who move to Hollywood to remake their most popular series, and find the process is definitely not what they expected. This is a hilarious comedy which runs for five seasons and is re-watchable, just like Friends. It’s easy watching. Would highly recommend. 

Happy watching!

Written by Lewis C. Baird