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BrumHour saw The Orphanage at the invite of Blue Orange Theatre.
By Becky Kroon twitter.com/BeckyKroon
Review: The Orphanage at Blue Orange Theatre
Directed by James Williams
After thoroughly enjoying DR1 Theatrical’s The Wicked Lady last year, The Orphanage is a welcomed follow-up to the Blue Orange Theatre’s programme. Going into the production, I was expecting classic horror tropes, funky plot twists and an ambitious set design, and DR1 Theatre did not fail to deliver.
Progressing their set from The Wicked Lady, Set and Lighting Designer, Alex Johnson further elevated the theatre space to emulate a somewhat abandoned childcare home. Fuzzy TV screens and shattered LED’s accompanied by an intricate 1950s set presented a tangible tension throughout the show, and allowed for thrilling jump scares to please the horror fans.
Stephanie Simpson and Saul Bache played the two leads Liv and JP respectively. Deciding to spend the night in the titular orphanage to kick-start their Youtube channel, it very quickly turns out that everything is not as it seems, with past and present events intertwining and exposing secrets the pair could never have imagined.
Bache and Simpson shared great chemistry and their youthful attitudes juxtaposed nicely with the chilling experiences of the night. Bache’s comedic beats in the first half especially gave a reprieve to the horror surrounding them, and the majority of the jokes landed rather well. In contrast, Simpson’s emotional range was illustrated throughout and provided a balance to the action.
The play asks questions of agency, authority and manipulation. Though its first act is a spooky and (unapologetically) humorous deconstruction of horror tropes for the Youtube age, its second exposes a more sinister tale brewing beneath the pair.
Without spoiling too much, the central conflict of the second half revolves around themes explored in the Milgram experiment – namely, how far somebody would go to obey an authority figure who instructed them to perform acts conflicting with their personal conscience. The nuanced terror and scepticism of Simpson and Bache was gripping and had me hooked the entire time.
The Orphanage is once again a well-directed piece of horror theatre, in which director James Williams accomplishes the blurred boundaries of the supernatural and human intention. With horror theatre being a niche in the Brummie cultural scene, you can catch The Orphanage until Sunday 27th November with matinees on the weekend. Book tickets here: blueorangetheatre.co.uk/project/theorphanagelive.