Guy Brigg

Oxford-based theatre company Three Chairs and a Hat have made the move from stage to screen, as part of the online Edinburgh Fringe.

Their musical ‘Melody’, which played in theatres in Oxford, Abingdon and the south in 2019, was due to run for a week at Fringe venue the Space on the Mile, before Covid-19 put paid to the live festival.

But venue organisers have stepped in with an online theatre festival instead, featuring 80 videos made by Fringe performers during Lockdown.

Alice Evans, dir Lady M

‘Haunted’, the first of four videos contributed by Three Chairs and a Hat, was launched this month. It’s a dramatised story, written and performed by the company’s founder, writer and musician Nia Williams.

“It’s a story about isolation, obsessive love and the tricks your mind can play on you when you’re alone with your thoughts in the house,” she explains.

“I enjoyed experimenting with the possibilities of video, and climbing the very steep learning curve of video-editing. But I also found it exhausting—it takes a lot of work to fill a few minutes—and after a while, all that introspection became almost as disturbing as the story itself!”

On August 15 two more videos by Three Chairs went live. ’The Singing Lesson’ is an adapted extract of ‘Melody’, directed by Wayne T Brown and performed by Guy Brigg and Marilyn Moore.

Next up is and ‘Lady M’, directed by Alice Evans, in which Susanne Hodgson plays a present-day Lady Macbeth as a YouTube life coach. Both are written by Nia and involve music, which posed different challenges:

“The logistics of rehearsing, performing and directing remotely were complex enough,” she says, “it became even trickier when we added in my piano accompaniment, earphones, lip syncing and harmonies.” 

In the final video, which is launched on 22 August, Jane Hainsworth performs her own short story, ‘Pamela Drysdale’s Lockdown’, a comedy of errors about a naughty weekend that goes sour when two illicit lovers are unexpectedly locked down together. 

Everyone involved in the videos is based in Oxfordshire and active in the local theatre world, and all have had to meet new challenges in the switch of medium.

Jane Hainsworth performs her own short story, ‘Pamela Drysdale’s Lockdown’

“Video is a very different animal, and I think we’ve all missed the buzz and energy of live rehearsal and performance,” says Nia. “But on the positive side, it’s made us think in new ways and learn new skills, and I think we’ll be developing those ideas further in the future.

“But there’s no substitute for live theatre or live arts. They bring us together in many more ways than one, and we’re all looking forward eagerly to their return.”

Wayne T Brown (dir, The Singing Lesson)

All 80 Fringe videos can be seen by going to and clicking ‘Watch Shows’. All Three Chairs and a Hat films are under Theatre, and all will be available to watch from their launch dates until 30th August.

THE VIDEOS: Haunted (direct link—from 8th August

The Singing Lesson—from 15th August

Lady M—from 15th August

Pamela Drysdale’s Lockdown—22nd August