He and She are locked ‘Together’ due to Covid

Thursday: Together; (BBC2, 9pm)

Wednesday, 16th June 2021, 5:00 pm

The Covid 19 pandemic disrupted the world in ways we couldn’t possibly have imagined just a couple of years ago. Who would have thought everything would grind to a near-halt in days?

A worldwide virus outbreak is a rich seam for sci-fi and drama writers that has been deeply mined before – think Steven Soderberg’s Contagion, or Will Smith’s scenery-chewing turn in I Am Legend.

Covid will probably be inspiring creatives for years to come, but this insightful comedy drama, written by Dennis Kelly and directed by Stephen Daldry, focuses on the lockdown that was a consequence of the virus, and examines how it impacts one dysfunctional family.

He (James McAvoy) and She (Sharon Horgan)

By turns hilarious and heartbreaking, it follows the story of an unnamed couple, played by Sharon Horgan and James McAvoy, who are forced to re-evaluate themselves and their relationship while being cooped up together.

She is a charity worker, a coordinator for all of Europe at a refugee charity. She’s the daughter of a dentist father and an ‘old socialist’ mother – the only grandparent still around.

He is a self-employed, self-made man who runs a boutique computing consultancy. He’s been forced to furlough his staff and take up growing vegetables – something he’s very proud of.

Arthur is their 10-year-old son and the one thing that has kept his parents’ relationship together. Until lockdown descends.

Dennis Kelly explained Together is about a couple who totally hate each other, but have somehow found a way of existing by “not talking to, thinking about, noticing, communicating with or being in the same room as” each other.

Then lockdown happens and, as anyone who was suddenly thrown together with their nearest and dearest (or not-so loved ones) will know, simmering tensions were quick to flare and old wounds were swiftly reopened.

“It’s about how humans negotiate their shared experiences when they think they have nothing in common other than staying alive, and it’s about how you can hate what you love and love what you hate,” Kelly added.

Sharon Horgan, no stranger to series treading a fine line between comedy and drama, Catastrophe being a perfect example, said: “I think everyone who got involved in this film had no intention of doing a Covid drama but then we read Dennis’ script and changed our minds. We shot this in 10 days so it was a beautifully stressful experience, but it also felt like we were making something important. The fact that it feels like news means that the Covid death toll, the tragedy of so many lives lost unnecessarily, has not been talked about enough.”

James McAvoy was quick to add his praise for the quality of the material, which dealt with a complex and emotive subject: “Dennis writes so wittily for these characters and his script had me within the first few pages. When I heard Sharon was involved with Stephen Daldry directing it was a no brainer.

“It’s a hilarious, heartfelt, entertaining and unconsciously funny exploration of a relationship and a couple facing real tragedy across a year we have all lived through.”

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