Our critic looks back on dazzling state-of-the-nation monologues and valiant virtual reimaginings, Ovid and Oliver Twist
1. Uncle Vanya
Filmed version of Harold Pinter theatre production; October
Ian Rickson’s production was cut short when the theatres went dark. Collaborating with Ross MacGibbon, he dazzlingly reinterpreted his staging for the screen. Not a transfer but a transfiguration. The atmosphere – both torpid and tense – was of lockdown. This was the Covid Chekhov. On BBC Four, 30 December, 10pm, then on BBC iPlayer.
2. Death of England/ Death of England: Delroy
National Theatre, London; February/October
Some of 2020’s most urgent words were written by Clint Dyer and Roy Williams, and delivered – in monologues staged nine months apart at the National – by Rafe Spall and Michael Balogun: best friends, one black, one white, fighting for survival in an angry Britain.