Since August has already arrived, all theatre geeks must grieve over Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2020. theSpaceUK is coming to the rescue, presenting eighty online shows, all written and produced in lockdown, one of which is Rehearsal Etiquette by Swell Theatre Company.
Funnily enough, and quite ironically, Rehearsal Etiquette demonstrates the frustrations, awkwardness and perhaps even pointlessness of online theatre via the platform that brings so many remote productions. But Swell Theatre Company has a good point, relatable, not only for those of us longing for the actual Edinburgh Fringe experience but essentially everyone, fed up with life happening online in general.
The show captures Swell Theatre Company’s attempt to rehearse for their new musical via Zoom. ‘Attempt’ is the right word because an online rehearsal spirals into chaos – time confusion, actors arriving late, technical issues, family members interrupting and speaking in the background, sudden phone calls, etc. The main conclusion on real life’s irreplaceability might seem a bit banal but anyone who has had the experience of meeting/interview/call/workshop/anything on Zoom (so most of us probably), will immediately get the pain.
Some issues presented in the play written by Ferelith Kingston are painfully accurate and that’s why really funny. Some go a bit too far – as much as I have seen the video or sound freezing multiple times, I have never come across an attempt to make a smoothie during an online meeting (correct me if I’m wrong!). Similarly, some actors, like Pepe Sanchez-Molero, have the natural gift of effortless entertainers, while the other ones try a bit too hard to portray the frustration behind the online camera.
Rehearsal Etiquette is really short (only fifteen minutes long), so you can watch it in between your Zoom meetings. You will probably long for the live theatrical experience once again, feel the Edinburgh Fringe Festival nostalgia even more painfully and even look forward to Swell Theatre Company’s actual musical, perhaps coming to the Fringe 2021.