1 November 2013

Middlemarch - Dorothea's Story at the Orange Tree

Middlemarch is the sort of story that the Orange Tree has built its reputation on, the only problem is that it is a book rather than a play and a long book at that.

The clever approach taken by Geofffrey Beevers was to take three stories from the novel and to tell their stories in three separate plays. They were independent stories and could be seen in any order. I saw Dorothea's Story first just because it was on first.

Obviously these stories overlap and the same characters appear in more than one of them so the next clever idea was to use the same cast through the season.

The next play that I am going to see is The Doctor's Story and I have now met the doctor and know something of his story.

The adoption made heavy use of narrative to introduce each scene and this was usually done by the appropriate member of the cast speaking in the third person, e.g. Dorothea would walk on to stage, look to the audience and say something like, "It is the following Summer and Dorothea is at home watching Strictly Come Dancing, " (I may have made some of that up.)

With the play being thick with dialogue and narrative there was little work for the set to do and so there was little set, even by the Orange Tree's usual standards. A desk and a couple of chairs was about as far as it got.

The other feature was the earlier start, 7:30 rather than 7:45, required to fit all the story in before 10:15.

And a good story it was too.

I had not read the book (no surprise there) so the story was new to me and I found it gripping. I genuinely did not know where it was leading and was keen to find out.

Helping immensely in this was the superb acting from the three main players, Georgina Strawson as the young and earnest Dorothea, Christopher Ettridge as her pompous and vacuous guardian and Jamie Newall as her dour husband.

I enjoyed the play immensely as did everybody else in the packed house, and there was much enthusiastic applause at the end. Incidentally, I did not catch anybody asleep which is very unusual.

All bodes well for the next two elements of the story and I already have my tickets for those.

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