27 November 2017

Poison at Orange Tree Theatre was steady if unspectacular

It had been a while since I had genuinely looked forward to a performance at Orange Tree Theatre rather than going out of a sense of loyalty.

The reason for that was that Poison sounded slightly difficult and I like difficult. I also liked that it was written by a foreigner as I like to see other perspective.

My enthusiasm was converted into seat Lower Floor A5 for £22.50. That was in the middle of the front row just off to the left of the picture. I was pleased to see the minimalist set when I went in, carrying a bottle of Punk IPA because there was no interval. The picture also shows the entire cast.

We quickly learned that the two people had been married but had split not long after the death of their son and had not met or spoken for nine years. Now a poison in the ground meant that their son's grave might have to move and they were at the graveyard to meet the authorities to discuss options.

For the next eighty minutes they spoke, argued and joked about their son, their parting and their lives since then. Their different reaction's to their son's death and their different reactions to their reunion drove the drama and drove it to some interesting, if not very surprising, places. The emotions fluctuated, but not a lot, and the pace was deliciously slow with many long pauses which all helped to keep a steady tension that was, thankfully, never quite relieved.

It also helped that both Claire Price and Zubin Varla delivered fine performances.

Dead children is something of a theatrical meme at the moment (which probably says more about the sort of plays that I choose to see than anything else) so many of the themes of loss and coping I had seen explored before but they were explored skilfully here which made up for a lack in originality.

I am old enough to remember Once we were Mothers (Orange Tree 2007) which handled the death of a child with more emotion and more of an impact, which is why I remember it ten years and hundreds of plays later.

Poison was a steady if unspectacular play and steady is good enough.

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