21 June 2014

Orange Tree Theatre Festival - Programme 1

The Orange Tree Theatre Festival marked the end of Sam Walters' long and glorious reign with ten plays across three programmes. Due to other commitments I ended up seeing all three in five days.

All three had a mix of formats and lengths which gave them something of the same feeling as the try-out sessions at Theatre in the Pound. I liked the changes in styles and moods but seeing ten performances in five days and then writing them up some time later has meant that some of the experiences have faded slightly. As a rule, I prefer to give shows time to settle down in my memory before trying to load more things to think about on top of them.

The first playlet was Skeletons, a new play by David Laws. This suffered a little in my appreciation by being the first of the the ten and by being a "normal" story, though the characters were far from normal. There is nothing remotely normal about a middle-aged man living at home with his mother and spying on a woman in a neighbouring house using a high-powered telescope. At least I hope that is not normal.

The social vignette was both funny and troubling. The small cast were excellent and I enjoyed it a lot.

The second show, Duck, Death and the Tulip by Wolf Erlbruch was something quite different.

Duck and Death were puppets who were joined by a narrator to tell a short story about a duck who becomes friends with Death until the inevitable happened.

I liked the piece and it was good to see something so different. Normally I only see things like this at try-out evenings. 

Closing the programme was Closer Scrutiny, a new play written by Adam Barnard.

It started off normally enough with a daughter talking to her father until the doorbell went and she asked, "Is that me?. And it was. The version of her that we saw first disappeared and then she came through the door with her son, oblivious of the previous conversation.

The play developed neatly from there with the young woman facing a life-changing career move and rebuilding her relationship with her father as she did so.This was a stunning performance mixing some simple ideas on family relationships and some mysterious goings on possibly involving time-travel and/or ghosts.

The combination of playlets worked well together providing a good solid start, something different in the middle and a very strong ending. It was an excellent start to the Festival.

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