25 June 2014

Orange Tree Theatre Festival - Programme 2

My final visit to the Orange Tree Theatre Festival was to see Programme 2 which proved to be the most mixed of a mixed bunch.

The evening opened with Four Days in Hong Kong which told the story of Edward Snowden's historic meeting with journalists that started the exposure of the dark deeds being done by western surveillance agencies.

I was aware of the main points in the story but the play went deeper than that and looked more at the motions and motives of the people involved. Obviously Snowden knew that he was burning several bridges but the journalists had concerns about their reputations too and there was a real possibility that they were being set-up.

It was all rather nicely done with a particularly convincing Snowden.

7 to 75 was one of those sort of pieces that I normally only see at try-out evening so it was good to see it as part of a proper show that I had paid to see.

Five women, aged 7 to 75, performed a piece that was somewhere between dance, gymnastics and mime that explored what it meant to each of them to be that age. With a nice twist there was some role-swapping at the end.

I am not quite sure what it was but I liked it and it was a gentle end to the first half.

I Dream before I Take the Stand started the second half aggressively.

This short drama showed a woman who was a victim of an attack in a park being cross examined forcefully by a lawyer playing the "you were asking for it" line by, for example, asking her questions about the colour of her underwear.

The theme of the playlet was no surprise but what lifted it in to something a little special was the crisp writing by Arlene Hutton and the masterful performances by David Antrobus and Heather Saunders.

Mobile 4 took a sideways look at modern art and artists. An artistic commune was threatened when one of them became a national star, so much so that he could even be bothered to come to the opening of his own exhibition and left the work to his colleagues, not all of whom thought that his stardom was deserved.

The ending was fairly predictable but the journey there was fun with lots of barbed interplay between the communal artists.

Programme 2 was a nicely mixed performance that succeeded mostly because of the variety it offered and also because it had the little gem I Dream before I Take the Stand in the middle.

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