10 February 2017

Winter Solstice was another great disappointment at Orange Tree


It is tempting to cut and paste parts of my review of Blue Heart because there were large dollops of deja vu. Winter Solstice suffered fatally from trying to be clever for cleverness sake and forgot to entertain while doing so.

There were too main gimmicks used both of which started off as amusing but soon became tired cliches. The play had large sections of narrative with the cast taking in turns to be narrator which meant that they sometimes spoke about themselves in the third person. I've seen this devise used effectively in small doses, House of Cards does this excellently as did Shakespeare, but here it was overused and did nothing to aid the story.

The second gimmick was the use of props of the office meeting type for other things, so a pencil became a cigarette and a highlighter became a lipstick. Again I failed to see the point of this and did it noting to aid the drama. I would have preferred it if no props had been used at all.

The play's title came from its setting, Christmas Eve. All the events took place in the house of a couple of well-to-do intellectuals (she made films, he wrote books) and the daughter. They were soon joined by her mother and later a friend of hers and, finally, a friend of the family. There was little action but a lot of talking. Some skeletons rattled out of cupboards but were gently put back again and forgotten. Hints of affairs were glossed over, unbelievable hints of Nazi collusion faded away and hints of a serious illness were not developed. Basically nothing happened.

I felt sorry for the cast at times. They did reasonably well with the material that they had to work with  and that was all that they could do.

I loved Sheppy but Winter Solstice made it two disappointments out of three for me and with the Bush reopening soon (I have tickets) and the Riverside reopening next year there is the real possibility that Orange Tree will drop off my must-see list. Sad days.

On the plus side Orange Tree was packed and apparently the run was sold out so there is clearly a market for plays like this. It's just that I'm not in it.

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