Oranges on the Brain

Thu 21st – Sat 23rd June 2012

reviews

Melissa Tricoire

at 02:41 on 23rd Jun 2012

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Oranges. Oranges as admission tickets, Spanish, Italian, stateless oranges scattered on stage, orange purée covering Thea’s kitchen walls, oranges as the basic ingredient of Duncan’s elixir of life, his perfect smoothie… Joe Graham’s delirious play glorifies this most common of fruits the better to defamiliarise it. Oranges are on Duncan’s brain, oranges are in his mind, they signify his creative genius, turmoil and personal demons in this tale of the uncanny where a couple scrutinises their identity as lovers and individuals.

‘Bonkers’, ‘scary ‘and ‘mad’ those were some of the words left in the memory book by the audience and rightly so … The opening scene of ‘Oranges’ shows that illness often comes close to madness: rain and clouds are projected on translucent watery plastic panes, thrilling and petrifying thunders make themselves heard through a symphonic score, a blue aerie light pervades the whole setting… these effects combine to offer a spine-chilling vision of Duncan’s and Thea’s tormented minds. But that’s not all, it gets even better! As the show progresses we are absorbed in the intensely schizophrenic psychology of this dysfunctioning couple whose love, pain, guilt and anger are expressed with majesty and sensationalism. James Groom’s personification of Duncan is mesmerising: Duncan is an ever-changing epic figure, sometimes he is an Adam rebelling against his creator, sometimes a succubus tormenting his beloved, sometimes a little-boy playing a charlatan selling his elixir of life in the Mid-West, but always a man who seeks to escape the ever menacing presence of the storm, the sword of Damocles threatening to put an end to his existential dreams of smoothiesque grandeur. Sarah Maguire’s performance is equally enthralling: Thea is the pillar on which Duncan rests, the voice of reason, first pictured as the woman in white, a ghost-like figure helplessly blaming the Gods for Duncan’s cyclothymia, she is a loving and caring wife who endeavours to recapture the magic of their youthful love but who soon realises that she was meant to be a Victor Frankenstein, the domineering creator of the monstrous evil threatening her husband’s sanity and life. ‘Oranges’ is a battlefield showing Duncan and Thea’s fighting each other but also together: the lovers face the storm and unite to find the formula for the perfect smoothie and the perfect relationship. The couple’s formulae are formulated in a sharp and witty language with which they move from the pits of despair to the middle-ground of the everyday with tender and funny sarcasm.

What makes the force and poignancy of Delirium Theatre’s production is its ability to re-tell and transform familiar clichés from love stories and existential journeys to offer a strikingly disconcerting, intense and juicy take on them, a vision which the audience observes from the safety of their seats, but also with which they can identify.

Reader! Go and see ‘Oranges on the Brain’, grab your orange at the door and get a taste of the elixir of life!

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