Surviving Lockdown Online with National Theatre of Scotland

Jonathon Watson, 'A Mug's Game', NTS Scenes for Survival
Jonathon Watson, 'A Mug's Game', NTS Scenes for Survival

Scenes for Survival

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As we drift toward the (hopefully) final days of lockdown, now might be a great time to take a dive into the National Theatre of Scotland’s Scenes for Survival web-series. Over the last year NTS have gathered a lush array of creatives who would normally be working in theatre, film and television to build a sparkling online theatre space which can be accessed from the comfort of your home. It now features 55 digital artworks celebrating the wonders of Scottish arts and theatre. 

Highlights include:

Jonathon Watson, 'A Mug's Game', NTS Scenes for Survival
Jonathon Watson, ‘A Mug’s Game’, NTS Scenes for Survival

A Mug’s Game

In an extract from Francis Poet’s play ‘Fibres’, Jonathon Watson excels as a proud worker reliving the Clydebank shipyard coup, where Jimmy Reid inspired employees to turn the tables on politicians and management by taking control of the yards. The monologue is understated and touching, capturing the fears of a young man desperate for a trade but wary of the hazards around asbestos dust. He’s sharp enough to change roles and accept a lower wage for the sake of his health, but since the dust seems to get everywhere, he ponders whether this was the right choice. The tale also features a walk-on part for John Lennon and Yoko Ono. Directed by Louise Shephard.

Alan Cumming, 'Out of the Woods', NTS Scenes for Survival
Alan Cumming, ‘Out of the Woods’, NTS Scenes for Survival

Out of the Woods

Alan Cumming stars in this seriously creepy comedy performed entirely by camera phone. That might sound limiting, but the set-up actually increases a jittery mood of disquiet and anxiety. Each tiny scene builds foreboding as we delve deeper into the personality of an unhinged man lost in a forest wrestling his demons while desperately hunting for his ex-wife and daughter’s new home.  What are his real objectives though? Johnny McKnight’s tightly woven script reveals murderous intents amid the darkest comedic moments. Directed by Andrew Panton.

Ashleigh More, 'Clearing', NTS Scenes for Survival
Ashleigh More, ‘Clearing’, NTS Scenes for Survival


Writer Morna Pearson captures the intensity and high drama of a modern teenager’s chaotic lockdown reality, ably bolstered by lively performance from Ashleigh More. Torn between two households Sammi seeks refuge from her mum’s Xbox-loving boyfriend by heading to the comfort and security of dad’s Pot Noodle cupboard. But, as her father’s cough gets worse, Sammi is forced to spend more time in the forest between both houses. A twinkle in the sky catches her eye and the story takes a surprising turn. Directed by Cameron Mowat.

Moyo Akande, 'The Present', NTS Scenes for Survival
Moyo Akande, ‘The Present’, NTS Scenes for Survival

The Present

A beautifully-woven, rhyming account of absent love, tenderness and the value of everyday customs. Moyo Akande inhabits Stef Smith’s elegiac monologue with such sprightly oomph that it’s easy to imagine the unspoken relationship developing between her character and the postie. Her modest lockdown fantasies stretch to simple meet-ups and throwing parties for everyone in the street. But another symbol of life, family and community presents itself when she resolves to clear out a messy cupboard. Directed by Katherine Nesbitt.

With thanks to Malcolm McGonigle for this review.

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