TV Review: Unprecedented, Episode 5

Chloë Moss, Nathaniel Martello-White and Jasmine Lee-Jones make Episode 5 of Unprecedented unmissable 

“I want people not screens”

One of the main strengths, for me, of Unprecedented has been the sheer variety of the writing that has responded to Covid-19 here. Previous episodes (#1, #2, #3, #4) have all impressed but the combination of writers in this fifth instalment really captures that lightning-in-a-bottle potential that makes the best theatre spark.

I watched Chloë Moss’ Everybody’s Talkin’ whilst hungover but not even I can blame the huge weeping tears on that alone, this is a beautifully pitched, gorgeously performed slice of family drama in miniature. Three daughters gather on Zoom to speak with their recently bereaved mother but the trials of finding a new normal, within the context of already having find a new normal is full of unimaginable pain. Moss’ writing and Caitlin McLeod’s direction speaks directly to the challenges that so many faced even before coronavirus hit, and during, and Sue Johnston leads the cast marvellously.

Nathaniel Martello-White opts for something a bit meta in Central Hill, which he has both written and directed. It falls directly into that category much beloved of theatre marketers – darkly comic – but given a sample quote is “this is Hamlet on the toilet”, you can see where I’m coming from… It’s one to watch without knowing too much about it beforehand but I will say it is interesting to see how much weight Martello-White layers into his script even in its humour.

And last but by no means least at all, Jasmine-Lee Jones takes an cannily alternative approach to the project as she flips the perspective unexpectedly. Batshit is like an existential howl of rage from Mother Nature, or at least one of her representatives, and it is utterly enthralling. Kae Alexander delivers it with an extraordinary intensity and Tinuke Craig’s direction suitably makes it look like none of the other shorts in the entire programme. Inspired.

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