June 2022

The Bread & Roses Theatre 

SwanWing Productions took 'Love In The Time Of Lockdown' to The Bread & Roses Theatre in Clapham, London. After a successful run in London we received amazing feedback and are on a real high to take our 'new variant' up to Edinburgh Fringe 2022.

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Photos by Paolo Paparesta

Website - paolopaparesta.com

Instagram - @ppaolopaparesta

'Love In The Time Of Lockdown' at The Bread & Roses Theatre, Clapham

The play “Love in the Time of Lockdown” was created during the lockdown of February 2021. I was taking part in “The Literal Challenge” where you write a short play every day for a whole month. This challenge comes highly recommended to those writers who believe in the mantra: Don’t get it right, get it written! You can edit afterwards. At the same time, many of my friends were struggling with being alone at home or not finding any time to themselves. Others were desperate to date again, afraid of the vaccination or even considering suicide. The mental health toll of the lockdown turned out to be immense. While these worries filled my every waking thoughts, it is not surprising they also showed up in my writing.

The resulting play is not all doom and gloom, some of the situations are absolutely hilarious, too. When you miss your lover, perhaps your car can be a substitute. When someone finally touches you again after a year of lonesome dinners, you might fall instantly in love – even if it’s just the doctor giving you an injection. And how will poor Lady Macbeth cope with the ironing when she should be on stage at the National?!

This play was first read on many zooms, as that is where actors met during lockdown, reading scripts together and dreaming of performing in public again. Especially the women recognised themselves in the various parts. Myself and five actors decided in March to try and put the play on at the Brighton Fringe that June, hoping with all our might that by then the theatres would allow at least a small audience in again. But how to rehearse in person? Eventually, an outdoor space was found where the actors tentatively approached each other without hugging (which is very strange for thespians, we all hug a lot!).
 
The team founded SwanWing Productions and everyone helped with producing, advertising and accounting. The performances in Brighton were a lovely success and the company then bravely took the play to the Edinburgh Fringe where it was shown nine times to sold out houses in August. Turned out many people wanted to find out what sort of love there had been during lockdown.
 
This play will speak to all ages – we all suffered during lockdown and probably know people who had it worse than us. Someone wrote after seeing the show: “I left just wanting to go home and hug my whole family and tell them how much I loved them.”


At times the language and the subject matter can be rather rude and triggering which is why we advise that this play is not suitable for the under 16s.
 
After performing in Brighton and Edinburgh the team really wanted to take the show to London, so we started hunting for a nice venue and The Bread and Roses perfectly fit the bill and has made us feel very welcome! 

We are very pleased that this play received so many good reviews as well as personal comments from those who saw it and recommended it to their friends. As more lockdown stories of how people coped, or didn’t, are being told, more scenes are being written, so “Love in the Time of Lockdown –The New Variant” will be performed in Edinburgh this August. 

Myself and SwanWing Productions in the meantime have been invited to write and perform a completely new play for the Battle Medieval Festival in June 2022. The play, “BATTLE, a modern mystery play” is also going to the Edinburgh Fringe in August. It is a new look at women in times of war and what happens when a Harry and a William are fighting for the throne through the centuries. 

"Following a sold-out tour at the 2021 Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Love in The Time of Lockdown headed to the South London venue, The Bread and Roses Theatre.

Written and directed by Saskia Wesnigk-Wood, the play features a number of scenes, with a variety of characters from all walks of life and how they coped during the height of the nationwide lockdowns. The cast includes Claire Coull, Gillian Fischer, Jon Terry, Martina Greenwood and Olivia Post, as they perform in 7 different scenes.

The play opened with an amusing scene between a patient visiting their doctor for their vaccination, with the patient repetitively exclaiming they hadn’t ‘touched anyone since last March’. This story set the tone for the rest of the show, as we meet different characters and explore the effects the lockdowns are having on themselves and their relationships. Together the cast, performed as characters that feel all too common and familiar. From the nosey neighbour to the anxious social distancer, I appreciated that each character could be associated with the audience’s own experience during the lockdown.

The 60-minute play managed to cover several topics such as social distance dating, self-love, family, lack of sex and loneliness. The stories were a blend of light-hearted humour and serious, sensitive topics. One poignant scene involved remembering those who had lost their lives during the pandemic; Gillian Fischer who played an elderly lady, gave a heart-warming performance as they recalled the memory of someone who had passed.

I enjoyed that the stories were an accurate depiction of the ‘unprecedented times’ we faced during the lockdowns. Saskia Wesnigk-Wood also included situations we may not have experienced and in turn, made me reflect and emphasise the characters.

The staging was minimal, with few interchanging props between scenes and dim lights to indicate a new story was about to be told. Though small, some props such as the empty vodka bottle beside the irritated helpline caller, were significant additions to the stories being told.

I felt some of the scenes were a bit awkward (*that* car scene) and other stories – the character who wanted to be buried in a silver dress – needed more depth. However, this was redeemed by the final two scenes. I really liked how the characters were intertwined for the helpline story, with each of the desperate callers detailing how tough the lockdown had been on them. Martina Greenwood stood out for me as they convincingly played the frustrated mother of two who just wanted a break. I also loved Jon Terry and Olivia Post as the actors-turned-drama teachers in the final story. I admired their chemistry (and the literature references!) in such a short scene. The pair captured exactly how we would imagine those in the arts industry felt during this time – longing to be back in the limelight and in front of an audience…. not a Zoom call. It was a sensitive scene with Olivia’s character reaching their breaking point and Jon’s optimistic character rushing to provide support, reminding them that they will be back on stage soon.

Lockdown was an out-of-the-ordinary yet shared experience we all faced. The play has done well to highlight the weird, wonderful, and tough reality during those times. Love in The Time of Lockdown is on until Saturday 11th June at The Bread and Roses Theatre."  - Rachel Agyekum