SEE AGAIN: It’s a premise that is hard to resist. Two of Britain’s brightest and most charismatic actors come together for a Covid-inspired comedy.
And if the omens were right – their last show together had them play a Neil Gaiman-inspired angel and demon – then the result is even better than we could have hoped for.
Extracts from Staging have been circulating on social media and featured on talk shows like Graham Norton’s for the 12 months since his UK debut, so it’s a welcome relief to finally have the real thing happen. on Kiwi screens (the six-part first series debuts on UKTV at 9:30 p.m. on Tuesday, June 15, with the eight-part second season to follow directly next month).
A sort of Covid-era, Zoom-set’s successor to The trip, he sees Welsh sorcerer Michael Sheen and Scottish rascal David Tennant joking and bickering while trying to keep busy, at a time when they are unable to perform in front of a live audience.
Dame Judi Dench is just one of the guest stars of Staged.
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Their production proposal from Luigi Pirandello Six characters in search of an author has been frozen in the wake of the pandemic, however, director Simon Evans is convinced they should keep rehearsing so they can be ready to roll as soon as the lockdown is lifted.
While David is enthusiastic about the move, Michael is a bit more reluctant to read online. Instead, he embarked on his hobby of landscape painting, indulging in daily charcuterie boards and becoming increasingly paranoid about the return of bird life to his beloved Port Talbot. “I feel like I’m in a Hitchcock movie,” he worries.
Slightly envious of the lavish and artistic lifestyle of his fellow comedian, David, by comparison, struggled with home schooling his kids and started spelling words backwards in his head. “It’s not a skill set, it’s a constraint,” he admits.
As with Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon’s adventures in Europe, much of the fun of Staging comes from the dynamics in the couple’s relationship. Instead of impressions, these two offer a range of regional and international accents to showcase, all the while arguing over who should top the list – and why – whining over an email language ” cowardly ”and seize every chance to surpass himself.
The occasional guest – Samuel L. Jackson, Dame Judi Dench and Adrian Lester in season one and everyone from Christoph Waltz to Cate Blanchett and Michael Palin to Phoebe Waller-Bridge in season two – injects a little more spice into debates, but really we ‘You are here to see this terrific duo send their public figures and profession, which they do time and time again with panache and aplomb.
They could be Staging, but these little episodes of about 15 minutes are a lot of fun.
Staging Sky UKTV screening begins at 9:30 p.m. on Tuesday 15 June. Episodes will also be available to watch on demand on Sky Go.