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Corona Daze (Susan Elkin reviews)

Corona Daze

By Alice Bragg & Lucie Capel

Capel & Bragg Productions

Hen and Chickens Theatre

Star rating: 3

“Corona daze” is a very apt term for how we all felt in March 2020 and this neat, witty play recalls it accurately in all its surreal awfulness.

Nicky (Alice Bragg) is struggling at home. As most of us were at the start, she is initially frightened and manic, gradually becoming more rational, although still stressed, as the months pass. The piece consists entirely of monologue (although we hear the voices of her two daughters and husband) as she talks to her mother via Zoom. The mother, is of course, much calmer and common sensible and has to be told off for “gins by the bins” with her neighbours. Meanwhile home schooling is not easy (pasta jewellery anyone?), her husband becomes obsessive about  planet-saving self-sufficiency, her eldest daughter has to be brought home by police and then there’s a chilling call from Nicky’s workplace.

It’s almost a docudrama reminding us how extreme – and with hindsight probably over the top – the reaction to the pandemic actually was. I can imagine this play being performed to the next generation in 20 years’ time and their being totally incredulous that people ever behaved like this. For a 2024 audience, though, it’s all so recent that we identify with every word of it. And the use of actual recordings of Johnson and Sunak being sanctimoniously bossy to break up scenes and indicate the passage of time works well. So does the inclusion of Dominic Cummings squirmingly trying to justify the Barnard Castle jaunt – which is always going to raise a laugh.

The writing is quite strong and Bragg is a good actor although she overdoes it in the early scenes and I was quite worried about the upstage left door which is meant to lead to the rest of the house. If she bangs and pulls it like that  many more times it will fall apart on stage and get a different sort of laugh. Either she needs to be gentler with it or someone had better reinforce the set.

Author information
Susan Elkin Susan Elkin is an education journalist, author and former secondary teacher of English. She was Education and Training Editor at The Stage from 2005 - 2016
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