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
Old Red Lion Theatre until 4th January
Last ten shows reviewed at this venue: