The first Irish comedy about lockdown, made during lockdown, is coming to RTÉ this weekend
Featuring a host of well-known Irish comedians, it airs on RTÉ One on Sunday night.
Starring Dermot Whelan, Oliver Callan, Mary McEvoy, Bernard Casey, Camille Lucy Ross, Karen Kelly and JOE’s own Eric Lalor, the comedy, titled Socially Distant, tells the story of a dysfunctional family trying to arrange a surprise birthday party during the onset of Covid-19.
The comedy was self-shot by the cast and is told entirely via video messages and group chats. It was made in April, during the height of the coronavirus crisis in Ireland, with the cast having to became all-in-one cinematographers, sound-ops and stylists during shooting.
Cast members followed storyboards as they filmed and sent takes via WhatsApp to the director. Observing social distancing to the letter, many of the actors involved have never even met.
Socially Distant follows Dave (Dermot Whelan) as he reluctantly tries to corral a gang of busy, distracted relatives into attending a surprise birthday party for Brid (Mary McEvoy.)
Relatives include Facebook-conspiracy-addict Michael (Oliver Callan), delivery driver Eric (Eric Lalor), who thinks this whole Covid thing will blow over, and teacher Isabelle (Camille Lucy Ross) who is run off her feet, remote teaching kids from the comfort of her couch.
There’s also Dave’s daughter Laura (Karen Kelley), who is sent home from work for insisting on social distancing, and SoCoDu (South County Dublin) sports addict Chris (Bernard Casey), who breaks lockdown to go skiing in France… it does not go well.
Commenting on the making of the comedy, writer/director James Cotter said: “At the beginning of lockdown, it seemed that all through the media there was nothing but terrible news stories and a, justifiable, sense of doom.
“Despite this, everywhere I looked, people were doing their best, not just to cope, but to help others. My Mum was 200 miles away cocooning, but her friends, neighbours and community were there from the first day of lockdown to support her.
“I wanted to try and reflect this positivity. Lockdown posed unique filming difficulties, but the amazing cast were up for the challenge, and they made something better than I could have ever hoped for.”
Socially Distant airs on RTÉ One on Sunday, 5 July at 10.35pm.