26 June 2009

Double bill at the Orange Tree

Somehow we have got to the end of another season at the Orange Tree theatre in Richmond.

The parting shot was a double bill by two trainee directors; Sing to me Through Open Windows written by Arthur Kopit and directed by Andy Brunskill, and The Private Ear written by Peter Shaffer and directed by David Siebert.

The pairing proved to work well as both had just a cast of three, were focused on the main (male) character and developed their drama from this character's emotions.

Sing to me Through Open Windows hints at the history of a former stage magician who now finds himself living hermit like with a clown-like servant and young boys makes his annual visit to the magician.

The hint of the past comes from the references to something that happened five years ago to the day just after the magician retired to a lonely place in the woods.

The servant and the boy try to rekindle the magic by playing games and demanding to see some old tricks but these fall flat when, for example, the rabbit pulled from the hat proves to be a toy rather than the real thing.

In the end the magician spurns the attempts to rekindle his life and retreats back into his reclusive ways.

I was delighted to see regular actor David Antrobus (pictured) taking the lead role and firmly take this chance to excel.

In contrast, the lead character in The Private Ear, Bob, is a very shy young man who has somehow managed to persuade a woman, Doreen, to come to his flat for dinner.

They met at a classical music concert but she was there only because she was given a free ticket and had no real idea of what to expect.

Bob loves listening to classical music, especially opera and preferably loud.

He tries to let the music speak for him and after a hesitant start this seems as the ploy might just work.

The situation is made the worse for Bob who invited his friend, Ted, along too to cook and to provide some company. Ted is a womaniser and pushes his luck with Doreen which she is tempted by.

When Ted leaves Bob and Doreen alone (as previously arranged) they do seem to start getting on together but then Bob loses it and tries to kiss Doreen and suddenly it is all over. Doreen leaves Bob alone and in tears.

Tam Williams as Bob was magnificent and so involved in the part that he still had tears in his eyes when he re-emerged for a thoroughly well deserved encore.

The Orange Tree is a magnificent local facility and I am so very glad that it regularly puts on plays like these.

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