Last chances to catch Crave live-stream at Chichester Festival Theatre

It’s a bold choice. And it is the right choice, says Jonathan Slinger who takes to the stage in Crave by Sarah Kane, the first show back at Chichester Festival Theatre.

Jonathan Slinger in CRAVE Photo Marc Brenner
Jonathan Slinger in CRAVE Photo Marc Brenner

Originally due to play in the Spiegeltent this autumn, Crave opened to a live, socially distanced audience in the Festival Theatre and – in a first for Chichester – was simultaneously live-streamed to global digital audiences.

With the second national lockdown now starting, you can still catch the streaming from home from Thursday to Saturday (November 7).

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“When I was asked to do it,” Jonathan says, “I did think out of all the projects that could have opened a season comeback for Chichester that Sarah Kane would be one of the boldest as their chosen show.

“And for that reason, I am extremely proud to be doing it – and for lots of other reasons as well!

“I really do think it is a fascinating project. It is definitely not your usual Chichester fare, it is safe to say, and I am very much looking forward to seeing how the audience will react to it. They are an incredibly intelligent bunch of people.

“But I think many people in these current times especially were thinking that Chichester might have done something that was a bit of light relief.

“I think they have chosen instead something that is more like the way the Greeks viewed tragedy, which is to put something on stage which is quite extreme and then it has a cathartic effect. It purges you.

“It reminds you that your own life could be a whole lot worse…”

Angry, funny, defiant, kind and cruel, Crave comes promised as a deeply personal meditation on the meaning of love.

“So yes, I think it is the right move. There are also lots of technical reasons why the play was always going to work. They had to find a play that could be performed with social distancing but which could also be rehearsed with social distancing.

“There are not many plays that you can say that about. We are not changing anything. There are no stage directions in the play at all. You can stage it how you want to stage it.

“There are four characters and they operate as single entities. Occasionally you feel that they are speaking to each other, but a lot of the time they are speaking in and of themselves. It is a play that is very easy to stage in a socially-distanced way. So technically it is the right choice, but I also think it is perfect for our times.

“In some ways it feels like all the characters are confessing a lot of their innermost desires and fears and some of their darkest thoughts.

“I remember when I read it, I said to the director that these four characters could be in the middle of a pandemic. That desire to communicate comes when you are very much more isolated, and I do think we are all feeling that urge to communicate right now.”

Jonathan was in the middle of opening a show, City of Angels, in the West End when the pandemic struck: “We had that weird day on the Monday. We had come in to do the show, and we had a brief chat with the producer. We knew that Boris was going to speak that evening.

“We wired it up to the tanoy and we sat in the auditorium and listened and we heard him say that theatres were something that people should avoid… so we packed up and went home.

“I had a couple of weeks at home, and then my brother said I should come down and live with his family. They live near Newbury.

“I was thinking we have no idea how long this was going to last. I didn’t want to be isolated and alone on my own for months, so I stayed with my brother and his family for three months, which was great… and then I went back to London a couple of months ago – and this came up.”

Crave contains strong language and is recommended for ages 16+.

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