Review: Love in the Lockdown, episodes 1-2

A web series from medieval music group The Telling, written and produced by their artistic director Clare Norburn; the third episode of Love in the Lockdown will land on YouTube on 23 March.

What makes this sequence of films different to others produced during the coronavirus crisis is its showcase of medieval music. There are two characters, Giovanni (Alec Newman) and Emilia (Rachael Stirling) who have met at a dinner party.

They are linked, peripherally, by The Decamaron, and personally by a middle-aged attraction which leaves them both in states of nervousness on Zoom.

Screencap from Love in the Lockdown, episode 1

On the evidence of the first two episodes, which aired on consecutive nights – each instalment corresponding with the exact date a year ago – there is an immediacy with an “audience” and something of a cliffhanger at the end to keep you returning.

The music is absolutely beautiful, both the general theme and the performances which close each episode of drama. The Telling usually develop concerts/plays for actors with live music, and this foray into small screen work is new to them.

Over nine parts, Love in the Lockdown shows a couple negotiating both a new romantic relationship and a joint creative endeavour (he is a playwright, she a musician) during the confines of lockdown.

Screencap from Love in the Lockdown, episode 2

The Decameron itself is a story, or group of stories, from people in quarantine during the Black Death, so the parallels with a global pandemic can be easily teased out.

By utilising the medium of Zoom calls (and solo Zoom scenes from Giovanni, presumably highlighting the voice in his head), there is a familiar immediacy every viewer will recognise as they follow the story through YouTube videos.

To view the episodes of Love in the Lockdown subscribe to the playlist on Brighton Early Music Festival’s YouTube channel. Once the whole series has been released it will remain available to view until 31 May.