Aurora Theatre has put together thirteen short new web plays, all presented as conducted over Zoom, diversely on the twin themes of COVID-19 and cigarettes.

Michael Donohue’s “It Is What It Is” presents a fast-paced, heightened-reality talkshow where a beleaguered host (Sarah Wun) tries and fails to remain professional while interviewing two ghastly characters (Roger Hendrick Simon, Bryan Nee) who argue that cigarettes prevent COVID-19. More comedy can be found in Neil Runcieman’s “Tobacco Gold”, which posits a global catastrophe as the powers that be drop the “gold standard” and instead fix the global economy on the price of tobacco.

Not everything is a laugh-a-minute though: “Baby Fever” and “Voices” investigate women who are really struggling with the impact of the pandemic on motherhood. “C&C Music Factory” and “Home 3” show us difficult conversations from two different lesbian relationships impacted by COVID-19. “Happy For You” gives voice to a woman really struggling with depression, and a sister who doesn’t understand.

Each short web play lasts between five and fifteen minutes, but due to the static nature of the webcam presentation, the pacing issues caused by the video-call format, and some repetitive writing, even the comedy ones lack the kind of fizz that we are all so desperately craving at the moment. The cast are terrific, and there’s no doubt that in a different year, this would be a radical and exciting presentation. But as art imitating life, it’s imitating the part that we’re all already sick of.

Stream online for free on YouTube.

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