blogging by Andrew Wickliffe

Staged (2020) s01e04 – Bara Brith, the extended version

Staged never lets us in enough on the joke to know if David Tennant or Michael Sheen is doing the bigger stretch. This episode has Sheen not just making fun of Tennant’s “heightened” read of the play—they finally get around to rehearsing—but even opens on Sheen making fun of how Tennant poses for pictures. He’s always got his mouth closed, no teeth, looks like a Muppet.

Two things. We get to see Michael Sheen do a Muppet impression and it’s wonderful. And David Tennant really does do the tight-lipped thing in still photos; lots of Tennant header images on <ul>The Stop Button</ul> and they are (mostly) tight-lipped.

The big scene this episode—well, in addition to all the bickering set pieces—is play producer Nina Sosanya trying to sort out the problems without director Simon Evans screwing things up. Sosanya’s great and able to remain sympathetic without having to be saccharine, much like Lucy Eaton (Evans’s suffering sister). The two wives, however, are de facto saccharine.

For instance, this episode has Georgia Tennant still not having told David she’s finished her novel because he’s going to mope out about it. Instead she’s encouraging him to work on his own writing so he doesn’t feel bad about himself. The way “Staged” positions its stars is very weird; Tennant and Sheen will self-depreciate in certain ways, but there’s a hard limit.

Meanwhile, everyone gets to berate Evans and it sometimes leads to fantastic real scenes, like Evans and Eaton talking about grocery shopping.

Those qualifications aside… it’s an absolutely hilarious episode. Tennant and Sheen yell bickering continues to be superb entertainment.

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