Review: Directors Showcase, Orange Tree

“I am your lady…”

Bringing the Orange Tree Theatre’s Spring season to a close in their annual Director’s Showcase, a double bill directed by two young hopefuls from their Trainee Director scheme and an opportunity for aspiring directors to get that valuable first step on the ladder. This they do with the two shows Then The Snow Came and Winter, both utilising some of the cast from the recently finished show Three Farces.

Then The Snow Came, both written and directed by Jimmy Grimes, is a devised piece incorporating verbatim dialogue, improvised sequences, a brief foray into puppetry and a recurring motif of Oscar Wilde’s The Happy Prince into this tale of two homeless men on the less salubrious side of the streets of Richmond. The collaborative nature of the whole show is evident in the grim richness of the sense of authenticity that emanates from all aspects thereof. Continue reading “Review: Directors Showcase, Orange Tree”

Review: Three Farces, Orange Tree Theatre

“But that’s the cupboard in which Aunt Dinah keeps her preserves and pickles…”

I have always something of an uneasy relationship with farce: it has never been a form of theatre that I’ve much enjoyed though I have tried repeatedly, A Flea In Her Ear, Once Bitten also at the Orange Tree, and most recently One Man Two Guvnors which has won over many new fans if not myself, something about the determination of audiences to laugh loud and long right from the start turns me off and it is often the case that that divide from those around you is extremely difficult to overcome through the play’s duration. But I am one to suffer nobly for my art and so the journey was made once more to the Orange Tree is Richmond to see not one, not two, but Three Farces by John Maddison Morton.

Director Henry Bell and editor Colin Chambers have pulled together 3 short pieces by Morton, a Victorian playwright who has largely fallen from favour and received little attention despite being well acclaimed by Kenneth Tynan, representing different facets of his writing (he wrote over 125 plays) which borrowed from the strong French tradition of farce but also incorporated an English sensibility which works extremely well and made this a more enjoyable evening at the theatre than I had anticipated. Much of this is due to the wonderfully warm staging which eases us in with a great opening introductory sequence (which quite frankly all theatres should employ) led by Daniel Cheyne’s impish and ukulele-bearing Master of Ceremonies and the frequent acknowledgement of the audience that reminds us of its origins as theatre for the masses in a time of great social change. Continue reading “Review: Three Farces, Orange Tree Theatre”