Despite hundreds of channels and dozens of streaming services, it is still difficult to find something new to watch. Often the biggest problem is the investment. Hour-long shows with many seasons are hard to pick up. And that̵
Staged can hit a little close to home at times, but usually in good manners. It stars Michael Sheen and David Tennant as dramatized versions of themselves trying to weather the global pandemic. The story begins just as the shutdown takes effect.
That closure cancels the piece they were preparing to rehearse, Six characters in search of an author. The director, Simon Evans (who plays another characterized version of himself), is broke, and the play would be his big break. So he comes up with a crazy idea: rehearsing via the internet.
The setup is simple, but it captures very well how we all felt in March when the world closed. Tennant and Sheen grow their hair wild and often don’t change clothes. Boredom and stress set in when Tennant and his wife (played by his real-life wife Georgia Tennant) try to help their kids with distance education and something to do with all day long.
Slowly the madness and frustration take over as they try to do it with new technology and the lack of real human contact. Sheen and Tennant fight and bicker and rookie Evans doesn’t know how to deal with two larger-than-life actors who turn into grumpy kids. The whole piece falls apart before they can read the first scene.
And that’s before the twists and turns come, like the surprise of a great actor who passed on the play and now wants to go back in, unaware that they’ve already replaced him. The story itself isn’t complicated, and if you’re looking for something that will change your life, you won’t get it here.
But what you do get is chemistry that works, even above Zoom. If you’ve seen David Tennant and Michael Sheen Good omens, you already know that the two can play each other off in endlessly enjoyable ways. That same energy returns, albeit more intimate and clumsy thanks to the joy of learning instantaneously from video conversations.
Everyone involved provides one laugh after another while reaching a new level of ridiculousness. And it’s the kind of “people going crazy” that you wouldn’t have believed in 2019, but will feel right at home in 2020. You will be related more often than not.
And the show isn’t afraid to hit somber notes either, with a few twists here and there that see Michael Sheen open your heart as he battles tears. But don’t worry, it’s a show that never takes itself too seriously. Check out the Easter Eggs at the beginning of each episode. The credits will change to match the parting words from the previous episode as the characters fight over who should get the first billing in the play.
Staged is only six episodes and each episode lasts half an hour or less. But that’s arguably one of the best parts of the show. It will not remain his welcome, it does not deal with points and it does not ask too much of you. It’s the perfect show where you’re not quite ready to go to bed, but you don’t want to stay up too long.
And the good news is that there is a second season coming. That seems about right, because if the pandemic doesn’t go away soon, we might as well enjoy a bit more out of all the frustration.
You can watch Staged on Hulu if you’re in the US, or on Netflix in the UK and other countries.