In the first of two instalments of a series curated by OT Literary Associate Guy Jones, Inside looks at the lives of three women who feel that they have been forgotten by the world. In a world premiere livestreamed from Orange Theatre Company’s auditorium, the three 30-minute plays are part of the Orange Tree Theatre’s digital project, OT On Screen.
The first of the three plays is written by Deborah Bruce called Guidesky and I and we walk in the shoes of Diana (Samantha Spiro). Diana is a mature single woman who is feeling the affects of the long lockdown, having recently lost her mother. We find Diana leaving her flat to go and clear out her mother’s house, having also lost her job recently. Her frustration is vented on Guidesky 125, who is the online customer service representative for a website that she has recently ordered a new cat bed from. She is most disgusted at the quality and the colour as it is not what she ordered and requires a full refund which Guidesky doesn’t seem willing to give.
This short play is so well written that you instantly feel the sense of loss and loneliness of Diana, who having lost her mother and her job is now facing an existence in isolation. Spiro takes advantage of the wonderful writing by handing us an emotionally charged performance and makes us realise what we have been missing – live performance!
In the second of the three plays, When The Daffodils written by Joel Tan, Meg (Ishia Bennison) plays Meg, a lady who lives alone and who needs a carer to bring her shopping and to check on her well-being. Samia (Jessica Murrain) comes to visit Meg with her shopping and to wish her well for Christmas. Tan has touched upon a situation which have been echoed in many houses in Britain throughout the pandemic, loved ones being cared for by care assistants and feeling increasingly isolated as they are not able to see their families. It is clear that a bond has formed between Meg and Samia, and Samia’s concern for Meg’s state of mind makes her go beyond the normal care plan arrangements. Bennison plays the confused and lonely Meg with realism whilst Murrain communicates the torment of the need to do her job, but also feels an emotional attachment to Meg. A well written play that tells the story of love and empathy.
Finally, Ursa Major tells us about Jay (Fisayo Akinade) and Callisto (Sasha Winslow) who meet outside a supermarket when Jay is asked to leave after having a meltdown in the bagging area. This is a tale about not judging people, both Jay and Callisto have endured sadness in their lives and their impromptu meeting outside the supermarket leads to Jay bringing Callisto; (an aging lady who chooses to live in tent), to his home so that she can have a hot meal. Their conversation leads to them discussing their past and to them sharing their sadness. There is a feeling that they could both unload their burden, at least for a few moments. Once again, very well performed.
It is impossible to watch these plays without feeling some form of emotional connection as the circumstances will ring true to so many of us over the last few months. The standard of writing and sensitive direction by Anna Himali Howard, makes this return to the Orange Tree Theatre a joy. The stage design was well thought out so that it could easily be used for all three plays without a pause.
The second part of this series Outside will be streamed live from 15th – 17th April 2021 and the last performance of Inside is tonight at 7.30pm. To buy tickets go to https://orangetreetheatre.co.uk/
Reviewer: Caroline Worswick
Reviewed: 27th March 2021
North West End UK Rating: ★★★★