9 February 2018

Out of Love at Orange Tree Theatre

I may have fallen somewhat out of love with Orange Tree, as I have grown to love places like Theatre503 and Southwark Playhouse more, but it is still my nearest small theatre and I still feel some loyalty towards it because of the many years that I have been going there.

While some visits had a sense of duty about them I was looking forward to this one because it sounded like my sort of thing, "A tale of friendship, love and rivalry over thirty years from award-winning playwright Elinor Cook."

It was a promising start too with the most minimal of stages, just a circle drawn on the ground. I like minimal.

Moving in and out of that circle were two women, the close friends, and one man who played all the men in their lives. Again, nothing wrong with that.

The story of their friendship was told in a series of short non-chronological scenes. Nothing wrong with that either as a concept and one I had come across before but this time I found it poorly executed. My main complaint was there there was little to say when each scene was set and there was no obvious reason for the timeshiftimg either.

The confusion was annoying but was not my main problem with the play. I completely failed to engage with the characters or to find anything interesting in their lives. To be honest, I struggled to stay awake at times.

There is a reason that I do not do star rating and that is because art is completely subjective and I am not conceited enough to think that my view matters very much to anyone else, I am writing this for myself. Other views are available and this time an actress that I know and respect went the following night and loved it. She could relate to the characters and their situation in a way that I could not which was good for her but not so good for me.

I left the Orange Tree trying to work out what the point of the play was, that is how we were meant to be entertained or enlightened, and I could not work it out. I felt that it put too much emphasis on the structure and not enough on the content. There were a couple of laughs along the way and a tender moment towards the end but that was a poor return for seventy minutes.

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