Alec Newman: Starring in a Zoom play was a strange and dislocating experience

Tom Horton, PA
·2-min read

Performing in an online play via a videocall was a “strange and dislocating experience”, according to Alec Newman.

The actor has starred in online play Love In The Lockdown, which tells the story of a couple in the early stages of their relationship at the outbreak of the pandemic.

Newman’s character Giovanni and Emilia, played by Rachael Stirling, both work in the creative industries and the play includes reflections on the challenges of working in the sector amid the pandemic.

Alec Newman (Stuart McClymont/PA)
Alec Newman (Stuart McClymont/PA)

Newman told the PA news agency that performing in front of a laptop screen over Zoom was a “strange and dislocating experience”.

He said he had to get used to looking directly into the webcam as they spoke, rather than into each other’s faces.

“We sort of got used to it after a bit, once we’d shot the second episode we were kind of up and running with this kind of medium,” he said.

“It is very strange. It is definitely something we had to learn first.”

Newman added the play has a strong focus on the role of artists and performers amid the pandemic.

“I know of an award-winning actor, who shall remain nameless… who when the pandemic hit, he took a job in a supermarket because he had to feed his family,” he said.

(PR handout/PA)
(PR handout/PA)

Newman said this was something he considered but he “had some extraordinary luck with little bits and pieces of work… so it’s not something that I did”.

“This is not sensational or out of the ordinary,” he said, adding it is a situation many people found themselves in.

Love In The Lockdown was written by Clare Norburn, who was inspired to write the play by her own experience of trying to navigate a relationship during lockdown.

“I realised recently that I have written a kind of ‘La La Land in a pandemic’ in that it follows an intense relationship between lovers from two different artistic worlds, music and drama, and how they ultimately learn through the relationship what their artistic truth is,” she said.

“Love In The Lockdown also charts the devastating effects the pandemic is having on those working in the arts, with Emilia forced to stack shelves in order to pay her rent.”

Stirling added: “Clare’s beautiful piece dramatises a lockdown experience of a live musician with the generous, funny and painful insight of her first-hand experience.

“She has written a drama for every creative who was told to retrain.”

Episodes from the Love In Lockdown series are being released daily from Thursday to Sunday March 23.

It can be viewed at