In 1962 when the Real Inspector Hound was written by Sir Tom Stoppard. The idea of being able to talk to anyone anywhere in the world was a pipe dream. It was 50 years before Zoom would come into existence. But last Sunday the play, first performed in 1968, was taken to 2020 and performed on Zoom by the Lockdown Theatre Company.

The play tells the story of two theatre critics, Moon, Simon Callow, and Birdboot, Derek Jacobi, going to watch a cliched whodunnit at the theatre including, Jennifer Saunders, Sanjeev Bhaskar and Gary Wilmot. In the second act Moon and Birdboot, after heavily critiquing the first act, find that they are inside the play themselves. With little or no props, no stage lighting or special effects. All the actors did an amazing job in being able to show the audience what was going on without all of the things they normally have to fall back on in the modern-day theatre. In particular, Simon Callow’s performance as Moon, the pompous Theatre Critic was almost perfection, creating the cliched critic we all think of with a memorable performance.

Directing a play is a difficult and all-encompassing job at the best of times. So I was impressed by director Jonathan Church’s ability to turn this play, designed for stages in the West End, into a Zoom performance. Little touches of comedy such as giving the actors a banana phone to use when they were calling people in the play, and in a scene where two people kissed making the two actors act out kissing by kissing their screens were extremely effective and provided his own new touch to an old play. However, a bit in which there is a body in a room which everyone seems to somehow not see did not work without there being an actual body on an actual stage and caused some confusion.

Another great thing about the Lockdown Theatre company, the organisation that put on the play is that all the money from the ticket sales goes to the Theatrical Trust. An organization that is raising money to make sure that theatres survive the loss in revenue caused by the pandemic. So far the Company have raised over 80,000 pounds for the charity.

Before watching the play I was sceptical of whether a Zoom play would work. But having seen the play I think that, although we would all love to be back in the theatre soon. These Zoom plays are a way for people to get there theatre fix safely, while also helping to make sure that live theatre will come back when it can.