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Friday, 9 September 2022

REVIEW: Yellowman at The Orange Tree Theatre

‘Yellowman’, written by Dael Orlandersmith, was first performed in London in 2004. Eighteen years later, Diane Page has brought this intense piece of work back on its feet, and created a very emotive, tender, and thought-provoking production.

The play follows the relationship between Alma (Nadine Higgin), a black woman whom is considered poor and from the ‘wrong side of the tracks’ and Eugene (Aaron Anthony), a lighter-skinned man with a more privileged and wealthy upbringing. Both these characters experience racism and classicism within their community and society. It explores the prejudices experienced in the lives of those living in the poorest parts of South Carolina in the 1970s. This play also projects how these issues are rooted in the world at large.

Saturday, 26 March 2022

REVIEW: Tom Fool at Orange Tree Theatre

On a rainy Tuesday evening I ventured out to Orange Tree Theatre to see Tom Fool by celebrated German playwright Franz Xaver Kroetz in a translation by Estella Schmid and Anthony Vivis. Although, one of the most performed playwrights in his homeland, less frequently do we see his work staged in the UK and it is a welcome addition to the Orange Tree Theatre’s Recovery Season’s programming. 

Kroetz works with a style of realism, that at its core, commentates on social oppression caused by a capitalist system prevailing in the 1970s, with a focus on the emotional toll it takes on families and individuals. He also has a nuanced ability to capture lightness and humour within moments of despair and defeat when dealing with something bigger than any one person. 

In Tom Fool, despite the grim anxiety experienced by his characters due to their working-class status, each search for and dream of freedom and happiness in their lives. It marks itself as one of Kroetz most iconic plays and although written for an audience over forty years ago, Tom Fool resonates all too strongly with the economic stronghold capitalism still has on families of today.

Thursday, 10 February 2022

REVIEW: Two Billion Beats at the Orange Tree Theatre

This was my first visit to the intimate Orange Tree Theatre in Richmond for a production in the round of the world premiere of Two Billion Beats by Sonali Bhattacharyya, an ambitious short play that attempts to reflect on female emancipation, racial and social discrimination, bullying and ambition at school, conflict with parents and sisterly tensions. The burden for explaining these ideas and the way they interlink falls on Safiyya Ingar as the older sister Asha. Though it is her sister Bettina, played by Anoushka Chadha, that gives us the title meaning when she explains that each being’s heartbeats two billion beats in a lifetime and so if it beats quicker, the shorter the life.  

Ingar rises to the challenge magnificently holding court with long monologues and engaging the audience constantly as she prowls around the space gazing out at the audience. Simple light changes take us from her reality at school and at the bus stop to her inner thoughts and her phone is cleverly used to provide the voices of historical and other characters. She tells us of the alternative views of Gandhi, the civil rights campaigner, and B R Ambedkar, a significant figure in the establishment of India’s Independence through an imagined boxing match that becomes the subject of her school essay.

Friday, 23 April 2021

REVIEW: Outside by Orange Tree Theatre (Online)

Following the first instalment of ‘Inside’ performed at the Orange Tree Theatre, we are back with the second half, ‘Outside’ continues the theme of short plays written by emerging and established writers. Small disclaimer there were some technical difficulties in the performance I watched but the Orange Tree Theatre provided a complimentary ticket to watch another show, so massive thank you for their kind gesture. 

Firstly the design element of the stage was created by Camilla Clarke and I loved the use of the scattered plants to give a real authentic feel to the play being set outside. This combined with the soft, warm lighting provided by Rajiv Pattani really had me immersed in the spring/summer vibe of the three pieces. 

Sunday, 28 March 2021

REVIEW: Inside at Orange Tree Theatre (Online)

After one whole year, yes you read that right, of the Orange Tree Theatre being closed due to the pandemic they have re-opened with a pool of new plays, written by a handful of fairly new writers, pooled into two different nights; Inside/Outside. The show I watched was ‘Inside’. Three different plays revolved around the stories of the elderly women and the things they have encountered during a pandemic.

The first show was ‘Guidesky And I’ by Deborah Bruce, a one-woman show, that highlights the loneliness of an elderly woman and her connection to a scammer online. 

Samantha Spiro manages to keep the pace of the show inviting me into the characters personal life, as we watch the daily conversations we all have with ourselves when we imagine no-one is watching us.
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