1 January 2010

The Lady or the Tiger at the Orange Tree

The seasonal show at the Orange Tree Theatre is the amusing musical The Lady or the Tiger, making a welcome return to the theatre after a long absence.

The evening got off to an unexpectedly bad start as due to the vagaries of the Orange Tree's on-line booking system we got tickets for upstairs without realising that we had done so until we arrived to pick them up. They need to get that fixed.

That said, an upstairs seat is better than no seat at all and the performance that we went to had been sold out for some time.

Being banished to the gallery was not such a hardship for this performance as the set was unbelievably minimal (that box was it) and the cast made an effort to engage with all of the audience, including us looking down on them.

They even managed to get me to join in the sing-along song in the second half, and to do all the arm gestures too!

The Lady and the Tiger has a simple plot that revolves around a small cast.

The story is set in a kingdom ruled by a childish and despotic king who has decreed that his citizens must be killed when they reach 65.He is aided by his bumbling Prime Minister who also acts as the play's narrator. The king has a young daughter who is desperate to be let off the leash at 25 and who falls for a travelling minstrel.

The kings latest wheeze is to replace courts by giving the prisoner a choice of two doors, behind one is a tiger and the other one has a lady.

A victim is needed for the grand opening and the minstrel gets selected just because he is there.

The princess discovers which door and the tiger and which has the lady and has to make the choice between losing her love to his certain death or to another lady.

Despite the serious setting and theme, it's actually a comedy - the sort you laugh out loud during.

The excellent cast made the most of their characters to keep the humour bubbling along nicely.

Most of the story was carried in the songs with relatively little spoken dialogue between them. Individually the songs were fairly simple, especially the nursery rhyme that we all sang along to, but several of the musical themes were repeated effectively to make the overall experience stimulating as well as fun.

And fun is what the play is all about, which makes it an excellent choice for the holiday season, especially when delivered with the Orange Tree's usually professionalism and panache.

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