Orange In The Subway presented by Orange-You-Glad & Burt Dingles Unconscious Productions
What Is It?
The new show presented by Orange-You-Glad and Burt Dingles Unconscious Productions. Written by Owen Thomas, directed by Lydia Kenny and performed by Mića Williams, George Whitehead and Jane Paul-Gets. Performing as part of the VAULT Festival.
What Is It About?
This dark comedy follows the story of Cassie, a young woman living on the streets of Cardiff. As she does her best to survive through an interminably cold winter whilst overcoming the cruelties of egotistical members of the public, a strange Spaceman comes to visit her, his arrival heralded by the mysterious appearance of a fresh orange in the middle of a subway. As the Spaceman grants Cassie three super powers, we see the light and dark of the lives of those who sleep rough, evoking laughter and tears in equal measure.
How Did It Make Me Feel?
It isn’t easy to make a show about homelessness funny, but for me some of the best pieces of hard hitting theatre utilise comedy in a way that focuses the pathos of a piece with pin-point precision. Orange in the Subway uses this combination of comedy and tragedy with great skill and flare, yet the show’s final moments do not quite meet the emotional impact required of such an ending.
The strength of Owen Thomas’ writing is held high by the amusing and charming freneticism of Mića Williams’ performance as Cassie. Cassie is the heart and soul of this piece, and as Williams brings her funny yet fragile character to life, we are drawn into the frightening and bleak world of homelessness. The script does not dwell on the reasons why Cassie and her friend the Banker (played by George Whitehead) have turned to a life on the streets, and this choice by Thomas allows us to focus on these characters’ present reality rather than mourning over the tragedy of why they are living as they do. It allows these characters the respect of just being, allowing them the grace of being rounded individuals with their own inner lives which are not stagnated by the audience’s pitying of the past.
Yet, for all the charm of Cassie’s character, the plot of the show gets somewhat lost in its final act. While there is a power to the allegories evoked by the gifts instilled by the Spaceman in Cassie, the symbolism of the three powers becomes a little heavy handed. While the first power brings about one of the show’s most impacting scenes, the subsequent powers feel rushed in their execution, not allowing for the same pathos as the first. Indeed, the show’s final moments felt a little muddied and rushed, but a revision of the script could bring the poignancy this ending deserves.
A strongly acted and clever piece of theatre which, with a little refocusing of its final moments, could be truly outstanding.
Orange In The Subway is playing in the Pit, VAULT Festival, until the 1st March 2020.
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