22 June 2014

Orange Tree Theatre Festival - Lunchtime Plays

I managed to squeeze the Orange Tree Theatre Festival Lunchtime Plays in to the middle of a garden sandwich that started with Kew Gardens and ended with Ormeley Lodge.

That made it a fairly busy day and it somewhat interrupted the normal schedule which meant that meals were replaced with snatched coffee and cake breaks. I'm used to that.

The lunchtime session was shorter than the two evening ones and had just two short plays. They varied in mood immensely but both relied on one actor to carry the performance which made them good bedfellows.

Non-Essential Personnel, a new play by new playwright Caitlin Shannon,  was on first.

This was the dark play.

A newly widowed mother talked to her geeky teenage son about what had happened to them.

The most recent thing was that she had been sent home from work because there was a bomb alert and she was deemed to be one of the non-essential personnel. This got her thinking about her worth and that led to other things.

The dialogue was crisp and emotional but while I can recall the structure and mood of the piece the specifics have gone (I should have written this much earlier!) and there was no discovery or twist for me to centre the piece on.

I do recall that I enjoyed it though and one of the nice things about having a less than perfect memory is that I can go to see things again. I'd go to see this again.

The Actor's Nightmare was a true tour de force by Paul Kemp who has made many a fine night at the Orange Tree.

The actor arrived backstage at a theatre to be warmly greeted by people he did not know who expected him to go on stage to perform in a production that he knew nothing about. Things got even more complicated when different people had different expectations of him, from being Hamlet to being in a Private Lives.

This was mostly all the actor (Paul) reacting to what the others said to him but there was one nice cameo from the support with a wonderfully over-acted Horatio.

There were several theatre jokes and references thrown in and I was glad that I had seen Hamlet recently as that helped me to get some of them.

It was a riotously funny play with Paul winning our sympathy and admiration, helped immensely by the rest of the cast.

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