The best theatre to stream this month: Dancing at Dusk, Maryland and more

Dancing at Dusk

When Pina Bausch’s The Rite of Spring was performed at Sadler’s Wells in June, one of the theatre’s resident bats unexpectedly swooped into the performance, leaving some to wonder if it was part of the show. After all, Bausch’s masterpiece, performed on a bed of peat, isn’t short on heady atmosphere. In this film about the production, the stage is sand as we watch the company of dancers from African countries perform Bausch’s driven choreography on the beach in Senegal in 2020, just before their tour was cancelled because of Covid. Available until 11 July.

Lift 2022

London’s biennial international festival of theatre is in full swing around the capital but there’s also an abundant online programme, available until 10 July. Denise Bolduc’s Zaagidiwin contemplates our relationship with nature through the journey of a half-human, half-bird character. Carolina Caycedo and David de Rozas’s The Teaching of the Hands, part of the Serpentine’s climate-crisis project Back to Earth, looks at colonisation, migration and ecological disaster. Rosana Cade and Ivor MacAskill’s The Making of Pinocchio is a reflection on MacAskill’s gender transition. The Guardian’s Mark Fisher gave it four stars, hailing “a funny, clever and thoughtful two-hander about identity, definition and acceptance”.


“It had been in my head for years as sketches and lines,” said Lucy Kirkwood of her play Maryland. But after the killing of Sabina Nessa in autumn last year, Kirkwood was compelled to write what she has described as a “howl” of a play in just two days. “I felt like this had to happen now.” The visceral 30-minute drama, about the normalisation of violence against women, was staged at the Royal Court in London in 2021 and has now been adapted for TV with a cast including Zawe Ashton and Hayley Squires. On BBC2 on 20 July and then available on BBC iPlayer.


“I want you to imagine you’re looking at a map,” says Matt Hartley in his monologue Idyll, which toured the UK as a Pentabus production in summer 2021. Not just looking at it: holding the map in your hands, hearing the rustle of its unfolding – a tactile counterpoint to our era of Google Earth. Hartley slowly invites us into two squares of that map, a pretty village where danger lurks on a scorching summer morning. Performed on a sky-blue stage in a park, it’s a compelling rural portrait put across with vigour. Online until 9 July.

The Duchess of Malfi

Gemma Arterton and Brendan O’Hea in The Duchess of Malfi.
Gemma Arterton and Brendan O’Hea in The Duchess of Malfi. Photograph: Tristram Kenton/The Guardian

This summer, the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse is taken over by the mechanicals from A Midsummer Night’s Dream in a fun-sounding family show. But the ornate, candlelit, replica Jacobean theatre traditionally gives an extra intimacy to dark conspiratorial dramas and it got off to a dazzling start in 2014 with its opening production, John Webster’s The Duchess of Malfi, starring Gemma Arterton and David Dawson. It’s currently available on BBC iPlayer and perfectly captures the venue’s ambiance – plus you get to swap those austere seats for the comfort of your own sofa.

Stand Up for Ukraine

The Finborough’s vital Voices from Ukraine season continues with this short digital piece, written and performed by Bréon Rydell, responding to Russia’s invasion. Anna Heller, a Ukrainian artist temporarily residing in Berlin, has created an accompanying soundscape to “reflect his message and guide people through the whole story, towards the truth”. The film is available for free from 4 July on the Finborough’s YouTube channel, with donations welcomed for the Voices of Children Foundation, a charity providing support to children affected by the war in Ukraine.

Strolling Through Ulysses!

“Stately, plump Buck Mulligan came from the stairhead, bearing a bowl of lather on which a mirror and a razor lay crossed.” So begins James Joyce’s Ulysses. In its centenary year, revisit what happened next on Bloomsday as seen through the eyes of writer-performer Robert Gogan who won the best actor prize at Galway fringe festival in 2019 for his irreverent, 75-minute one-man show that runs with Joyce’s own assertion that “there is not one single serious line” in his groundbreaking novel. Live-streamed from Derry Playhouse on 1 July and then available to watch again for a week.

The Tempest

Brace yourselves for a summer of Tempests as Shakespeare’s late play is swept on stage at the Ustinov in Bath (starting Deborah Warner’s artistic directorship), at Shakespeare’s Globe (from Sean Holmes) and in parks and gardens across London courtesy of Shakespeare in the Squares. For one to watch at home, how about Christopher Plummer as a quicksilver Prospero? The late star took on the role in a 2010 production directed by Des McAnuff for Ontario’s Stratford Shakespeare festival. It’s available from BroadwayHD along with the RSC’s hi-tech 2016 staging with Simon Russell Beale and an Ariel created through motion capture technology.

Sibiu international theatre festival

Beauty is the theme of this year’s edition of the Romanian arts festival which runs an online offering – with translations – until 3 July. Highlights include Quartet, Heiner Müller’s version of Les Liaisons Dangereuses, staged by Romania’s Radu Stanca national theatre; Japanese choreographer Un Yamada’s reflection on the Covid pandemic, Cosmos; Sasha Waltz’s eye-popping dance Kreatur; and Scottish Dance Theatre’s surreal baroque odyssey The Life and Times, created by Joan Clevillé and filmed in one continuous shot at Dundee Rep. Full lineup.

Odds On

The site-specific theatre company Dante or Die have brought the same questing playfulness to their digital productions as to their live performances that have sprung up in unusual locations around the UK since 2006. Odds On, an interactive 30-minute film written and directed by Daphna Attias and Terry O’Donovan, uses animation and a cast of actors to tell the tale of a retiree overwhelmed by the world of online gambling. It’s on a free “digital tour” where venues host different dates of availability, starting at Salford’s Lowry, 5-19 July, and Poole’s Lighthouse, 20-27 July.