There is always something exciting about new writing that warrants a tour after a successful first run.
Coupled with the fact that the cast and producing teams are graduates of Bath Spa University, there is a huge amount of support and goodwill following these ventures.
However, here Black Dog Productions in association with Beyond The Horizon are clearly establishing themselves as a serious small scale touring company. This bloody and dynamic piece written by Russell Eccleston is a good example of difficult story telling. The characters are well developed, and performances are very strong.
Orphan, is the name of an “unloved” child. He arrives as a youngster to be brought up by a cult. Clearly damaged by his treatment at their hands he arranges a reunion to try and find out some truth about a missing friend.
He will stop at nothing and whilst those around him have differing views through brainwashing and indoctrination; Orphan is clearly aware of the injustice and abuse that happened to the children whilst others deny its existence.
Russell Eccleston plays Orphan with an air of menace and stillness. The use of silence is powerful throughout; his displays of violence and brutality are understandable.
Tiffany Rhodes as Patience is a great foil to Orphan. She has grown into a wholesome good woman who was lucky enough to be adopted early on. Her realisation of the dishonesty of the caretaker is a key moment, all of which is well handled.
Tommy Carmichael as The Caretaker is both repellent and somehow evokes an element of sympathy. The power of the cult remains strong. Strong enough to keep him isolated for 5 years in the belief something else might happen.
This is a good piece, it might well benefit from a little editing to enhance the tension, but it is well researched and considered. The stage combat (Kate Aldridge) is effective and the use of stage blood certainly believable.
Orphan visits Bath as part of their tour and deserves a wider audience. Without question this is a company to look out for in the future. Get along to the Rondo this week to celebrate and support this exciting new work.
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Reviewer: Petra Schofield
Orphan, written by Russell Eccleston and presented by Black Dog Productions in association with Beyond the Horizon Theatre Company, is showing at the Rondo Theatre in Bath until Saturday 18th May 2019.
For more information, and tickets, visit the Rondo Theatre website.