Tag Archives: Emily K Neal

Blood Orange

★★★★

Old Red Lion Theatre

Blood Orange

Blood Orange

Old Red Lion Theatre

Reviewed – 12th December 2019

★★★★

 

“This is a play that will move you as well as warm your heart this Christmas”

 

When you think of theatre during the festive season, a play about a junior doctor’s experiences around this time of year may not be one of the first things that comes to mind. Tania Amsel has written, and is the sole performer in, Blood Orange, which centres around Amy as she works in Swansea A&E on Christmas Eve.

Amy has been out for drinks with her colleagues the night before which ended with her vomiting over the shoes of a surgeon she is clearly in awe of. She then has to deal with the shame of this the next day, whilst seeing to an array of patients including a man dressed as Santa who quite literally got stuck in a chimney. Here, it’s not hard to feel empathy for Amy, whilst laughing at some of the situations she finds herself in.

One patient, a young boy with cancer, strikes a chord with Amy and we see her enter into a mild panic, but it isn’t clear why at this point. With time, we learn that this particular patient has brought back childhood memories, with a trip to London for an interview at Great Ormond Street Hospital only strengthening her flashbacks.

Throughout the piece, lighting (Jamie Platt) and sound (Tingying Dong) prove highly effective. Everything from sounds of the hustle and bustle of a busy Oxford Circus to the intense lighting design when Amy is having flashbacks means we can engage well with the story.

On the subject of engaging well with the story, Tania Amsel’s performance style means we can do this without difficulty. She directly addresses the audience with ease, allowing us to connect with Amy and her experiences. It’s always interesting to see how one man/woman shows are delivered and Amsel’s energy and likability is proof that they can be a success. The fact the set includes only a fold up chair and what resembles the frame of a hospital screen is further testament to Amsel’s ability to consistently engage an audience.

In addition to shining a light on life as a junior doctor in the NHS, Blood Orange highlights what can happen when the pressures of a job become too much and a person’s personal and professional lives collide. Directed by Hamish MacDougall, Amsel has created a likable character and tackles her subject matter with sensitivity, warmth and humour, along with bucket loads of energy. This is a play that will move you as well as warm your heart this Christmas.

 

Reviewed by Emily K Neal

 


Blood Orange

Old Red Lion Theatre until 4th January

 

Last ten shows reviewed at this venue:
Anomaly | ★★★★ | January 2019
In Search Of Applause | ★★ | February 2019
Circa | ★★★★ | March 2019
Goodnight Mr Spindrift | ★★ | April 2019
Little Potatoes | ★★★ | April 2019
The Noises | ★★★★ | April 2019
Flinch | ★★★ | May 2019
The Knot | ★★★★ | June 2019
Edred, The Vampyre | ★★★½ | October 2019
Last Orders | ★★★ | October 2019

 

Click here to see our most recent reviews

 

Fast

★★★★

Park Theatre

Fast

Fast

Park Theatre

Reviewed – 16th October 2019

★★★★

 

“a powerful play that is sure to have you gripped from beginning to end”

 

As we enter Park Theatre’s smallest performance space, Park90, the eerie, sinister feel of Kate Barton’s play, Fast, is immediately made clear. Dimly lit and murky, the set genuinely looks like the setting of a horror film, decorated with leaves, branches, and ripped sheets on the ceiling, to name a few features.

Fast is based on the true story of Linda Hazzard, an American “doctor” who promoted fasting as a treatment and cure for illness at the turn of the 20th century. Hazzard is portrayed exceptionally by Caroline Lawrie, with her demeanour perfectly capturing a determined, albeit somewhat warped and disturbing woman. Lawrie has the ability to both charm and shock the audience in equal measure.

Natasha Cowley and Jordon Stevens play sisters Dora and Claire Williamson. The pair are enticed into being admitted to Hazzard’s sanatorium, believing her alternative methods will cure them of any ill-health they are experiencing. Near the beginning of the piece we learn of the relationship between the two sisters, with light-hearted banter taking place as they discuss their plans. The cast of four is completed by Daniel Norford, who plays Horace Cayton Jnr, a reporter intent on exposing Hazzard.

Once at the sanatorium, things quickly escalate for the Williamson sisters as they are subjected to Hazzard’s fasting treatments and their conditions take a turn for the worse. These sections of the play are particularly chilling and, at times, quite hard to watch.

Costume designer, Emily Bestow, who also designed the set, excels with her choice of clothing for the actors, which portrays the period very well. Sound design by David Chilton is also effective and helps with capturing the sinister nature of the story. Ben Bull’s lighting and projection design adds to this further and projections detailing dates and newspaper headlines remind us that we watching a play based on real events.

Kate Valentine has directed Fast in such a way that we feel as though we are sat in Hazzard’s sanatorium and witnessing these shocking events that occurred all those years ago. The acting from everyone involved, visual elements and sound all combine to create a powerful play that is sure to have you gripped from beginning to end.

 

Reviewed by Emily K Neal

Photography by Manuel Harlan

 


Fast

Park Theatre until 9th November

 

Last ten shows reviewed at this venue:
The Life I Lead | ★★★ | March 2019
We’re Staying Right Here | ★★★★ | March 2019
Hell Yes I’m Tough Enough | ★★½ | April 2019
Intra Muros | | April 2019
Napoli, Brooklyn | ★★★★ | June 2019
Summer Rolls | ★★★½ | June 2019
The Time Of Our Lies | ★★★★ | August 2019
The Weatherman | ★★★ | August 2019
Black Chiffon | ★★★★ | September 2019
Mother Of Him | ★★★★★ | September 2019

 

Click here to see our most recent reviews