First plays at reopened Upstairs at The Gatehouse to ban kissing

Jess Taylor as Anna in Suburb Theatre's production of The Yalta Game at Upstairs at the Gatehouse Th

Jess Taylor as Anna in Suburb Theatre's production of The Yalta Game at Upstairs at the Gatehouse Theatre in Highgate - Credit: Archant

Garden Suburb Theatre stages Brian Friel two-handers without embraces to comply with social distancing guidelines

The first post-lockdown plays at Upstairs at the Gatehouse have been forced to ban kissing.

Social distancing between performers means Garden Suburb Theatre has altered scenes in the two one act plays by Brian Friel where the characters embrace.

“We have eliminated all physical intimacy on stage,” says director Colin Gregory.

“At some points in The Yalta Game, which is about two lovers, the stage directions specify that the characters should kiss. But we have changed the scene in such a way that we do not reduce the dramatic impact – in fact, we add a new dimension to the play.”

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Following a £50,000 boost from the government’s Culture Recovery Fund, the Highgate venue is installing new exits and measures to comply with safety guidelines and will reopen its doors on November 17 after eight months with The Yalta Game and Afterplay. Performed by the local amateur company on alternate days, audiences will also be carefully socially distanced with capacity for around 45 per night.

Garden Suburb Theatre had originally intended to stage a large cast play, but turned to the two-handers - adapted by Friel from Checkhov - to enable social distancing in the dressing room.

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The Yalta Game is about the unreality of a holiday romance, while Afterplay focuses on Sonya from Uncle Vanya and Andrey from Three Sisters meeting in Moscow in the 1920s.

“They are fun and there to be enjoyed” added Colin, “but they are also about the human predicament.”

Runs November 17-22. Tickets must be booked online at

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