Review: Out Of Love, Orange Tree

“I’m the only person whose ever loved you”

Reflecting the impressive balance of their Roundabout season (an ensemble that’s 2/3s female and two out of three playwrights being women as well – see artistic directors, it can be done!), Elinor Cook’s Out Of Love places female friendship at the heart of its storytelling. 30 years of love and loss, dreams and betrayals, wrapped into a fractured narrative which denies nothing of how complex a thing friendship can be. 

Lorna and Grace have been great pals since as long as they can remember. But given the structure of the play, as soon as they’re declaring that they are going to be friends forever and that nothing can tear them apart, we’re 10, 15, 20 years down seeing exactly that. The one steals a creative idea and scores an amazing job, the other steals a boyfriend and ends up with a baby, people die and they’re brought back together but much has changed. Much keeps changing. Continue reading “Review: Out Of Love, Orange Tree”

Review: Black Mountain, Orange Tree

“I think we can only heal if we’re both hurt”

There’s acres of atmosphere in Brad Birch’s Black Mountain – the eerie luminosity of Peter Small’s lighting piercing the dark and bursts of Dominic Kennedy’s sound design curling around unexpected twists and turns. But for all of the creative invention at work here, James Grieve’s production can’t quite cover the feeling of something frustratingly incomplete about the writing, resulting in a hollowness at the heart of this would-be suspenseful thriller.

Part of the Roundabout Plays (with How To Be A Kid and Out of Love), Black Mountain starts off promisingly. We meet Rebecca and Paul as they take up residence in a rural cottage where they’re attempting to work through some problems in their relationship (“I didn’t come on a fucking holiday with you”). Sleeping in separate bedrooms, it is clear there’s something seriously awry here as evidenced by the tension in their every interaction (“you’re saying it with a tone”), even as they’re ostensibly trying to fix things. Continue reading “Review: Black Mountain, Orange Tree”

Review: How To Be A Kid, Orange Tree

“Some people expecting you to be very grown up and some people treating you like a kid”

It’s a mark of Paul Miller’s reinvigoration of the Orange Tree that it doesn’t feel too much of a surprise to hear Katy Perry and Little Mix playing in the theatre as you enter. In this particular case it is for a play for seven- to eleven- year olds but still, it feels wonderful that this artistic director has introduced this note of unpredictability to this Richmond institution.

Sarah McDonald-Hughes’ How To Be A Kid arrives here as part of Paines Plough’s trio of Roundabout Plays (along with Black Mountain and Out of Love), a co-production with Theatr Clywd and the Orange Tree which uses an ensemble of three actors to deliver three shining examples of new British writing. And as the opening salvo in the three-show press day, it proved an entertainingly strong start. Continue reading “Review: How To Be A Kid, Orange Tree”

News: Paines Plough announces their 2018 programme

As Paines Plough’s 2017 Roundabout season of Brad Birch’s Black Mountain, Elinor Cook’s Out Of Love and Sarah McDonald-Hughes’ How To Be A Kid – co-produced with the Orange Tree Theatre and Theatr Clwyd – arrives in London (running until 3rd March), news of their 2018 programme has now been announced.

Roundabout 2018 features world premieres from Georgia Christou (How To Spot An Alien), Simon Longman (Island Town) and Vinay Patel (Sticks and Stones) in co-production with Theatr Clywd and after opening there in Wales, will tour to  touring to The Lowry (Salford), Brewery Arts Centre (Kendal), Lighthouse (Poole), Theatre Royal Margate, Lincoln Performing Arts Centre, Appetite (Stoke-on-Trent), Darlington Theatre Town and Luton Culture. Continue reading “News: Paines Plough announces their 2018 programme”

Not-a-TV-Review: The Miniaturist

It’s a no for me for The Miniaturist

“Cornelia will fetch you a herring”

I haven’t read Jessie Burton’s 2014 novel The Miniaturist so I came into watching it with zero expectations. But even then, I wasn’t expecting that…!

To steal from the Guardian, the plot was “an everyday tale of girl marries man, moves from the sticks to old Amsterdam, discovers he’s gay, husband’s boyfriend stabs the dog, girl gets spooky doll’s house in which the miniature replicas begin changing to reflect real life, hubby is thrown into the sea while lashed to a stone wheel after suicidal courtroom speech denouncing Hanseatic cant, girl sells loaf/cones of sugar, and almost all, um, live happily ever after”.

But much as I love a story from Amsterdam, I found this a real challenge. The 90 minute episodes didn’t help, nor the heavy-handed shifts in tone which were a constant jolt. Maybe I should read the book instead…