When theatres closed their doors last March, they treated us to an explosion of digital theatre shows to stream at home, from high-budget National Theatre productions to experimental fringe livestreams. And in 2021, the breadth and quality of shows you can stream has only increased. But it can be hard to navigate this new and complicated landscape of online theatre. Luckily, Stagedoor has got you covered. Here's our handy guide to some of the biggest players in livestream and online theatre. Or simply scroll through our comprehensive listings on Streamdoor for a full list of everything that's out there.
Pictured: Matt Smith and Claire Foy in Lungs, available online this month. Photo: Helen Maybanks
The best theatre to stream in February 2021
Usually, fringe theatre fans would be spending much of February in the dank tunnels of Vault Festival. But this year, Living Record Festival is stepping into the gap. It's on until 22nd February, and offers shows from over 40 theatre companies from across the world, including comedy troupe The Noise Next Door and poet and author Maria Ferguson.
Or see a new digital show by Vaults favourites Les Enfants Terribles, the company behind hit irl immersive shows like Alice's Adventures Underground . Their interactive livestream Sherlock Homes invites you to turn detective and hunt a criminal from the comfort of your home.
February also offers another chance to see Shook, Samuel Bailey's moving look at three boys who are on the brink of fatherhood. It got five star reviews and a West End transfer after its run at Southwark Playhouse in 2018, so should be well worth a look.
Lucian Msamati in Amadeus, available on NT at Home
Get your fill of pre-recorded, usually pretty high quality shows via some of the many theatre streaming services competing for your subscriptions. The newest kid on the block is NT at Home, which lets your choose between paying a monthly fee or getting a one-off rental of shows including Yerma and Amadeus - but there's also Globe Player, Marquee TV, Broadway HD, On the Boards and more to choose from. Read our article Who's going to be Netflix for theatre? for a full comparison of what you get from each.
Mother by Peeping Tom, free to watch as part of Mime Festival this month. Photo: Oleg Degtiarov
Free-to-watch online theatre
Initially, theatres responded to the pandemic by putting out free online shows galore. Understandably, there's less free streaming theatre around these days. But there are a few resources out there offering free-to-watch theatre performances. The Shows Must Go On is a free YouTube channel that streams regular recordings of big theatre shows, mostly musicals; they tend to go up on Friday nights with not much advance warning, so keep checking back or follow our instagram account to keep in the loop. If you've got a taste for fringe theatre and want to discover new shows from around the world, check out Scenesaver, which features hundreds of filmed performances of every genre.
Darkfield's Eternal, an eerie interactive digital show
Immersive and interactive online shows
Growing numbers of theatremakers are making experimental shows that explore the fertile ground between theatre, gaming, escape rooms, film, and more. Follow companies like Darkfield and Swamp Motel to keep up to date with their latest productions. Or visit Streamdoor for more shows that will stretch your brain and your ideas of what theatre can be.