"it is hard to think of another company or venue which has done so much in such a short space of time or has provided as much fun in the process" - Off West End
"Northern Comedy Theatre re-framed 2020 so the audience could perceive the funnier and the lighter side, because we all need the gift of comedy" - Reviewer Number 9
Northern Comedy Theatre is a relatively new company having been formed on Merseyside in 2015 with the aim of cheering us all up and boy have they succeeded during 2020. Rather than just see the pandemic as a hindrance they have embraced the opportunities presented by taking themselves online and produced (literally) a stream of work of no less than seven online plays.
Five of these formed a series called “Doing….” in which they examined how the UK had been forced to take its leisure activities online and make the best of a bad job in order to carry out their hobbies Thus they examined amateur dramatics, book clubs, online quizzes and murder mystery evenings. As a coda they also tried their hand at the online business meeting. In two “specials” they tackled both Halloween and Christmas. All the shows used a core team of six young actors who formed a tight knit repertory company which exuded fun at every turn.
The scripts for all these shows were supplied by close collaborator, David Spicer, and their Artistic Director, Shaun Chambers, masterminded all the different pieces.
All shows were first performed live using the burgeoning technology of the Zoom platform in a praiseworthy attempt to replicate the experience of live theatre. Subsequently filmed (but unedited) versions of the seven plays emerged and can be found on the Scenesaver platform – www.scenesaver.co.uk.
Northern Comedy has shown great resilience in getting this collection of shows up and running and it is hard to think of another company or venue which has done so much in such a short space of time or has provided as much fun in the process.
I am pleased to announce that "Doing Shakespeare", "Doing the Book Club", "Doing The Pub Quiz", "Doing Whodunit" and "The Ministry of Christmas" have been awarded an OnComm – an Online Commendation. This new award has been introduced to recognise the best work that is now being presented online or broadcast during the Covid-19 lockdown.
This award follows from the OffComm introduced by OffWestEnd in 2019 to recognise shows with short runs, and is linked to our Offies awards which have been running for over 10 years.
The Arts have suffered greatly these last 10 months, and the new year doesn't bring us much hope, at least for the start of the year... and so I take my hat off to all those who had found ways around these challenging times, in order still to bring entertainment to the world, and find employment for the lucky few.
With this in mind, my first category is: 'ONLINE INSPIRERS": Those companies who seem to have taken to the online streaming world like a duck to water and continued to produce excellent quality work in this medium, above and beyond. In this respect I would like to mention and thank: Encompass Productions (London), Tramp (London), and Northern Comedy Theatre (Manchester) for continuing to produce works of quality throughout the period and not be fazed by it all.