3 April 2012

Play House and Definitely the Bahamas at the Orange Tree

There is something deeply reassuring about having an evening at the Orange Tree theatre to come home to when working away.

Of course I had to go to the original Orange Tree, the pub across the road, first for a couple of excellent pints of Ordinary and a cute wire-basket of chips to eat - such is the lot of the travelling worker.

Sadly there are no pasties at Richmond Station.

Play House and Definitely the Bahamas is a double bill of plays written by Martin Crimp at either ends of his career to date.

Play House is first-up and it is the newer of the two plays (2011).

As is the fashion these days, the action starts while the audience arrives. The set has just two long bare benches at either side and the two actors gradually load them with the props required for the play.

The two actors are a young married couple and we see them in a series of short scenes that highlight different aspects of their fragile, confusing and unusual lives.

The scenes may or may not be chronological, and I am not sure that it matters either way.

From their interactions with each other we learn about her abused childhood that still scars her heavily today, his mundane job that offers security and progression, their drug-supplying hedge-funded neighbour, and the dirtiest fridge that I have ever seen.

There are ups, downs and a lot of strangeness in the middle. My half-time tweet was that this is the funniest play about incest that I have seen.

The second play, Definitely the Bahamas (1987), was originally a radio play and that is how it is presented here.

In one corner of the studio sits Milly and in the opposite is Frank, her husband. In an other corner we have the sound effects guy and in the last the student staying with them sometimes appears.

Frank and Milly (mostly Milly) talk about their successful son Michael who now lives in South Africa with his wife.

Milly reminds you of Joyce Grenfell (I'm sure that's deliberate) as she goes off on her long monologues pausing only to seek confirmation from Frank or to ask him to fill in some of the blanks in her memory.

The dialogue is lyrical and flows sweetly but some of the content starts to worry us, especially when we learn more about Michael and his relationship with the young student.

It's witty, captivating and fascinating. It is just people talking quietly about family affairs yet it sucks you in and keeps you there.

Another superb evening at the Orange Tree and another reason that I see everything that they do.

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