Tag Archives: orange tree theatre

Sadness and Joy in the Life of Giraffes (Orange Tree Theatre)

A play in the Directors’ Festival at the Orange Tree Theatre in Richmond, Sadness and Joy in the Life of Giraffes proves to be wildly inventive in its new translation by Mark O’Thomas.

Publicity image for Sadness and Joy in the Life of Giraffes

Tiago Rodrigues’s play centres on a little girl, tall and precocious, with a huge vocabulary. This is Giraffe, who introduces the piece as her school project, and hopes we “won’t be bored”.

With a foul-mouthed teddy bear inexplicably called Judy Garland, plus a whole parade of characters (dad, soup man, panther, policeman, bank clerk, PM and Anton Chekhov) all played by the versatile Gyuri Sarossy, this play charms, amuses, chills and moves in a 70 minute runtime.

Giraffe’s journey to get money for the Discovery Channel ultimately leads her to finally face the death of her mother, and understand how hard it is for her father to support a growing and inquisitive girl.

Publicity image for Sadness and Joy in the Life of Giraffes

Eve Ponsonby is delightful as the central character, bouncing around in her pigtails and undies, defining words, sharing curiosity about her developing body, and finding the courage to let go of her teddy pal (played by Nathan Welsh wearing a bear suit and behaving like a petulant, potty-mouthed toddler).

Now and then the play veered into strange territory with discussions of paedophilia, and the sight of a half-clad little girl cuddling with a grown man dressed as a cuddly toy might be a touch on the weird side, but Wiebke Green gets the maximum impact from the material and directs her trio of actors well.

This will strike a chord with the young at heart, with those who remember growing up or the grief of first loss, or those who have open hearts and quirky souls. Whether you follow a line of Post-its, remember your mother’s scent, or rebel against authority, there’s something here to keep the interest.

Cory Shipp’s set design for Sadness and Joy in the Life of Giraffes

Sadness and Joy in the Life of Giraffes ran at the Directors’ Festival at the Orange Tree Theatre from 3-11 August.


Pilgrims (Orange Tree Theatre)

One of four shows comprising the Directors’ Festival of new graduates from St Mary’s University in Twickenham, Elinor Cook’s three-hander proves to be a complex, mystical and rather muddled piece about relationships, machismo, and the meaning of life.

Publicity image for Pilgrims

Rachel sets the scene, as Dan and Will are stranded up on a mountain in extreme cold, lost. They are expetienced adventurers, friends from childhood, and both in love with her, although the disjointed flashback structure shows that they have both taken her for granted.

An academic whose enthusiasm stretches from the folk-song tradition to the Romantic poets, Rachel sets her heart on a lucrative tenure in Boston just as much as the boy “superhero conquerors” want the impossible in the wilds of Peru.

Ellie Goodall catches the setting and sense of the piece, adapting the small stage area and props – boxes, pieces of wood, books – to evoke snatches of time and memory one can perhaps assume are filtered through the mind of the dying mountaineer.

The cast of Pilgrins

Scene changes lead to snatches of songs as the actors busy themselves in place-setting, and the melodies are as mystical as the stories of Tam Lin or the legend of St Christopher.

Adeyinka Akinrinade is the girl on the periphery of the action, the catalyst for the final breakout. Although the sound design of whistling winds made it hard to decipher her opening speech, she blossoms into a tower of strength, as alluring as a mermaid but as immovable as the mountains.

Nicholas Armfield, as whiny yet confident Welshman Will, and Luke MacGregor, as geeky yet petulant Dan, evoke both little boys lost and the toxic masculinity too many pints can bring.

Cory Shipp’s set design for Pilgrims

Pilgrims is an intriguing play, but it leaves the audience a tad confused and unsettled. Cook’s language is both poetic and earthy, but I felt the characters didn’t quite come through with enough clarity.

Pilgrims ran as part of the Directors’ Festival 2019 at the Orange Tree Theatre from 3-11 August.

Cougar (Orange Tree Theatre)

Rose Lewinstein’s new play, co-produced by the Orange Tree with English Touring Theatre, is a complex one-act piece with many points to make about gender politics, climate change, corporate greed, sexual power, and identity.

We first meet Leila (Charlotte Randle) and John (Mike Noble) in a luxury hotel room, which could be placed anywhere. There’s a double bed, a TV, a minibar, a large window with a view, a mirror, a door. She’s staying there for a conference, he works on the staff. There’s been some kind of altercation, and he’s stayed the night.

Charlotte Randle and Mike Noble in Cougar. Photo credit The Other Richard.
Charlotte Randle and Mike Noble in Cougar. Photo credit The Other Richard.

With very short scenes punctuated by stage lights off and on, we follow the progress of the relationship between these two through a succession of identikit rooms across the globe, as John becomes Leila’s paid pet, with the agreement that outside of planes and rooms, they do not communicate, and little personal information is ever shared – we know he lives in Acton, she in Richmond, but little else.

She boasts that she wants to make a difference to the world, to halt the floods and heat that threaten the long-term survival of the planet, but it becomes apparent that her conference speeches coerce big business to engage for the profits they will gain, and that her own ambition is to have a huge salary and an endlessly expensive designer wardrobe, of which, by extension, John becomes a part when she presents him with a Gucci package of clothes identical in shape and colour to his own, cheaper, togs.

Mike Noble and Charlotte Randle in Cougar.  Photo credit The Other Richard.
Mike Noble and Charlotte Randle in Cougar. Photo credit The Other Richard.

There’s hints of a darker backstory, too, as Leila likes violence, stating she “will not break like a china doll”, and teasing her toy to fury and jealousy through her (fabricated) shenanigans around town in Thailand. Outside the room(s), the world becomes more complicated: at one point, it is noted that California is under water and some countries are close to starvation.

There are metaphors a plenty in this piece – sexual ones, with Leila literally devouring pieces of meat she craves despite being a vegetarian; cultural ones, with France, Italy, Asia, Africa, anywhere becoming part of the same melting pot; primal ones, with the excessive consumption of alcohol on display; moral ones, with a gift to a beggar uprooting the synergy of the world Leila happily bleeds a huge salary and racks up a destructive carbon footprint from.

There’s also a mystery in another boy/man, mute, but seen in three scenes: once as a well-dressed room service bellhop, once as a savage dripping in blood, once as a mirror of John seen through a suburban window in Richmond. I’m assuming he’s played by Ryan Layden, who gets a thanks credit in the programme, but please correct me if I am wrong.

The sexual politics of the interplay between Leila and John made me think of Last Tango in Paris, tweaked and subverted for a new generation where the “Cougar” of the title, the older woman and man-eater, is the protagonist of the relationship. John Mortimer’s Lunch Hour, too, where identities are played with in a hotel room setting, with the real world locked outside.

I’m seeing When We Have Sufficiently Tortured Each Other at the National on Saturday. Although Cougar flirts with a relationship which may live on the fringes of BDSM, it pulls back from ever really going there, a couple of slaps across the face aside. Its games are more mind over matter. It will be interesting to compare the more showy play with this one.

Rosanna Vize has created a claustrophobic set which caused those on the front row to engage rather more deeply with the stage area than they may have previously, with a metal cage structure with two perspex panels which serve for window and mirror. The conceit of image is played with in the set just as much as it is in John’s camera, which he first covets, then destroys.

Cover of playtext of Cougar.
Cover of playtext of Cougar.

Chelsea Walker directs with a tight focus, assisted by lighting and sound design by Jess Bernberg and Alexandra Faye Braithwaite, but I can’t say I really understand what Lewinstein’s work is getting at. I enjoyed watching both Randle and Noble inhabiting their characters, but didn’t get their motivation to engage in this weird, globe-trotting charade.

Cougar continues at the Orange Tree until the 6th March, and runs approximately 75 minutes.

The Mix: a bowl full of London theatre buzz

Welcome to a new monthly feature on – this is The Mix, where I’ll pull out some items of London theatre news, big and small, which have caught my eye.

Bar and box office of Above The Stag
Bar and box office of Above The Stag

A is for Above the Stag. This sparkling and vibrant venue, once found behind the Victoria Palace Theatre, is now in residence in Vauxhall, and is fast building its reputation as one of the finest LGBT+ theatres. In a main house and a studio, it presents a variety of shows – Grindr the Opera, and [title of show]: a musical about musicals, are next in line. To find out more, to sign up to the newsletter, or to book tickets to this valuable space, go to

Auditorium, Bread and Roses Theatre
Auditorium, Bread and Roses Theatre

B is for Bread and Roses. This innovative and award-winning pub theatre in Clapham High Street recently showcased The Vagina Monologues and seems particularly supportive of new writers, women writers, and fringe comedy. As a relatively new venue the space is actively seeking donations and support to allow it to grow – for more, and for a taste of its upcoming productions, including Adam Gwan’s new musical Ordinary Days, which runs from 5th-16th March, go to

A Chichester Festival transfer, Caroline or Change
A Chichester Festival transfer, Caroline or Change

C is for Chichester. The festival, while taking place some miles outside the capital, has transferred a number of hit shows in over the past few years including Fiddler on the Roof, Caroline or Change, Half a Sixpence, King Lear, and Guys and Dolls. Although we are still waiting for news of the mooted transfer of the Noel Gay/Stephen Fry musical Me and My Girl, keep your eyes on this year’s big production of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s classic Oklahoma, which may be London-bound in due course.

Pinter Seven, which closes this month
Pinter Seven, which closes this month

D is for Departures. All good things must come to an end, and we say goodbye to several shows this month, including the English National Opera’s La Boheme on the 22nd, Pinter Seven at the Harold Pinter Theatre on the 23rd, True West at the Vaudeville Theatre on the 23rd, Nine Night at the Trafalgar Studios on the 23rd, the glorious Songs for Nobodies at the Ambassadors on the 23rd, and The Wider Earth at the Natural History Museum on the 24th.

Th' Importance of Bein' Earnest at th' Drayton Arms
Th’ Importance of Bein’ Earnest at th’ Drayton Arms

E is for Earnest. As an honorary Yorkshire girl, having lived there for a decade, I’m sad to miss out on Th’ Importance of Bein’ Earnest at the Drayton Arms Theatre on Old Brompton Road. It runs to the 23rd February and promises “Oscar Wilde meets Shameless” on a Yorkshire council estate, with no afternoon tea or starched collars in sight. For more information, go to

Bernadette Peters, who appears at the Lyceum this summer
Bernadette Peters, who appears at the Lyceum this summer

F is for Fabulous. Three divas are coming to town to perform their shows, and I’m going to put them all together here. On 18th March, Liza Pullman, formerly one third of Fascinating Aida, sings Streisand at the Lyric Theatre, following a run at The Other Palace. You can purchase tickets at and “give yourself reasons to smile this Spring”.

Patti LuPone, recently seen as Joanne in the reimagined Company, is in conversation at the Theatre Royal Haymarket on 10th March, launching a new series of events entitled Sunday Encounters. More at

Finally, the legendary Tony award-winner Bernadette Peters is back in town, at the Lyceum Theatre in Covent Garden, and her show takes place on the 10th June, as part of a UK tour. I’ll be covering this event in the summer, and if you want to be there too, you can find more details and book tickets at

Adjoa Andoh in Richard II
Adjoa Andoh in Richard II

G is for the Globe, specifically the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse, where a new production of Richard II opens on the 22nd February. Adjoa Andoh and Lynette Linton direct the first ever company of women of colour in a Shakespeare play on a major UK stage, in a production which has the Windrush scandal and the Brexit crisis very much in mind. This sounds as if it will be an important production of a play which does lend itself to reinterpretation. For more information, go to

John Malkovich in Bitter Wheat
John Malkovich in Bitter Wheat

H is for Harvey. There’s no getting over the fact that London will play host to two plays using the allegations against film producer Harvey Weinstein as inspiration this year. Currently running at the Playground Theatre on Latimer Road, Harvey is the brainchild (literally, given it is set in Weinstein’s head) of playwright-performer Steven Berkoff, who shows no signs of mellowing in his ninth decade. More information and booking at  Later in the year John Malkovich returns to the West End stage for the first time in more than thirty years in David Mamet’s Bitter Wheat, which concerns the character of one “Barney Fein”. This will run at the Garrick Theatre from 7th June to 14th September. Find out more at

Roger Allam in Rutherford and Son
Roger Allam in Rutherford and Son

I is for Inspiration, or lack of in this case, as not one, not two, but three productions of Githa Sowerbury’s 1912 Rutherford and Son are in production during 2019. One is up in Sheffield and currently running, one has just closed at Ealing’s Questors Theatre, and one is due in the National Theatre’s 2019-2020 season (starring Roger Allam). It’s a modern classic about generational strife in a family industry, which I last saw at the Oldham Coliseum in 1987. I’ll be at the National’s version in May – more information on that production at

Publicity for @Juliet
Publicity for @Juliet

J is for &Juliet. There’s been a lot of publicity for this musical, which comes into London towards the end of the year. Everyone knows the tragic story of Romeo and Juliet, but what if Juliet survived and was able to tell her own side of the tale? In the spirit of Six, this show will utilise pop music – this time the work of Max Martin, who wrote for Britney and others – to craft and “irreverent and fun-loving” show, and it opens at the Shaftesbury Theatre on 2nd November. If you’re up North, you can catch its run in Manchester from 10th September. Find out more about the London run at

The King's Head Pub & Theatre
The King’s Head Pub & Theatre

K is for the King’s Head. This theatre pub in Islington goes from strength to strength, and two new musicals running in late May-early June look fun, Trump: the Musical and Boris: the Musical. If parodies of current politics are not your cup of tea, you can catch the classics, too, as there are some short pieces by Tennessee Williams running in late July and through August. For more information see

Lipstick: A Fairy Tale of Iran
Lipstick: A Fairy Tale of Iran

L is for Lipstick. Lipstick: a Fairy Tale of Iran runs at the Omnibus Theatre, Clapham Common, from 26th February to 24th March, as part of the ’96 Festival, celebrating queerness and theatre. Part theatre, part drag cabaret, this show fuses storytelling, vaudeville, theatre, lip-synch and “boylesque”. Nathan Riley plays Mark, Siobhan O’Kelly plays Orla. This story of “rage, redemption and weaponised whimsy” promises to be a very special event. For more, see

A German Life, opening in April at the Bridge Theatre
A German Life, opening in April at the Bridge Theatre

M is for Maggie Smith. She’s returning to the stage for the first time in twelve years in a one-woman play, at the Bridge Theatre, this April. The new play is A German Life, based on the real life testimony of Brunhilde Pomsel, who once worked for Joseph Goebbels. If you are under 25 and a member of the “Young Bridge” scheme there are some tickets available for £15. More information at

Agnes Colander, running at Jermyn Street Theatre until the 16th March
Agnes Colander, running at Jermyn Street Theatre until the 16th March

N is for Nunn, Trevor. Following an acclaimed run at the Ustinov Studio at the Theatre Royal, Bath, Nunn’s new production of Harvey Granville Barker’s recently rediscovered play Agnes Colander has just opened at the Jermyn Street Theatre (near Piccadilly Circus) and runs until the 16th March. For more details see

Richmond’s Orange Tree Theatre

O is for the Orange Tree Theatre. Richmond’s smallest theatre has a mix of old and new productions, and is currently showcasing Rose Lewinstein’s new play Cougar (which I will report on later in the week), with Terence Rattigan’s While the Sun Shines running through June and July. The Orange Tree could always use donations and support if you are unable to attend performances. Find out more about the theatre at

Jonathan Hyde and Ben Allen in Gently Down The Stream
Jonathan Hyde and Ben Allen in Gently Down The Stream

P is for the Park Theatre, in Finsbury Park. Martin Sherman’s new play Gently Down The Stream has its press night tonight and runs through to the 16th March. I’ll be going in early March, and am very much looking forward to this production, directed by Sean Mathias and starring Jonathan Hyde, Ben Allen and Harry Lawtey. The play follows “the remarkably moving and brilliantly funny love story of Beau, an older American pianist living in London, and Rufus, an eccentric young lawyer, celebrating those who led the way for equality, marriage and the right to dream”. More details at

The fabulous ladies of Six - The Musical
The fabulous ladies of Six – The Musical

Q is for Queens. Six: the Musical continues its run at the Arts Theatre until January 2020. If you haven’t been yet, and you need something to whet your appetite, this article from BBC Newsbeat might get you in the mood. You can book tickets for Six at to see “Divorced – Beheaded – Live in Concert!”.

Publicity for Joseph at the London Palladium
Publicity for Joseph at the London Palladium

R is for Revamp. Does the world need yet another version of the Lloyd Webber-Rice pop musical Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat? You be the judge when a brand new production lands at the London Palladium in June. More here

Sunday Night Socials at the Union Theatre
Sunday Night Socials at the Union Theatre

S is for Sunday Night Socials. A new series of monthly concerts at the Union Theatre, near Southwark, these are being advertised as “very informal and relaxed” and will feature a whole host of West End performers over the next three months. For more information – and for details of main productions Can-Can and Othello – see

Dear Evan Hansen, coming to the Noel Coward Theatre this year
Dear Evan Hansen, coming to the Noel Coward Theatre this year

T is for Transfers. Come from Away at the Phoenix Theatre has its press night tonight, Waitress at the Adelphi Theatre on the 6th March. These transfers from old Broadway will soon be joined by a third show, Dear Evan Hansen, at the Noel Coward Theatre, for which early booking will be open at the end of this month. I visited Come from Away earlier this month and see Waitress next week.

The Vaults Festival. Via The Reviews Hub.
The Vaults Festival. Via The Reviews Hub.

U is for Underground, specifically The Vaults, beneath Waterloo Station. The Vaults Festival is currently in full swing until the 17th March, with a diverse programme of theatre, comedy, film, and late shows. You can find out more about the Festival at

Glenda Jackson in The Old Vic's #MORELOOS campaign
Glenda Jackson in The Old Vic’s #MORELOOS campaign

V is for Vic, Old. The grand old lady of The Cut is currently undergoing a refit which will improve the foyer and more importantly, the loos! In the meantime, if you’re visiting, there’s portakabins instead. I just have to share this delightful video from their Twitter account – – #MORELOOS!!!!

Official West End Theatre Guide image
Official West End Theatre Guide image

W is for the West End, and the Official West End Theatre Guide for the huge, the overpriced, and the spectacular shows on in the big houses – By all means support as and if you can, but remember there are literally thousands of places and performances in our metropolis.

Dock X at Surrey Quays

X is for is Dock X, at Surrey Quays. If you’re creating a special and unique event, this new multi-use space might be just the ticket. The industrial space lends itself to brand activations, car launches, conferences, award dinners, cultural pop ups, experiential and team building events across its vast 34,100 sq. ft reach. Perfect for creatives! More at

Exterior of the Unicorn Theatre
Exterior of the Unicorn Theatre

Y is for Youth. The Unicorn Theatre, on Tooley Street, London Bridge, is dedicated to developing work for young audiences. In 70 years of children’s theatre, it also has a vibrant Schools’ Programme, workshops, and this week is running some special events for half term. Find out more at

Lemurs at Hanwell Zoo
Lemurs at Hanwell Zoo

Z is for Zoo. Watching and learning about animals in a caring and natural habitat is a form of theatre, whether you are in Regent’s Park, Battersea or my local little zoo at Hanwell.

If you’d like your venue, event or production to be included in next month’s round-up, let me know by emailing or contacting me on Twitter at @loureviewsblog.

Comet Over Hollywood

Home for classic movie lovers

The Wee Writing Lassie

The Musings of a Writer / Freelance Editor in Training

Ailish Sinclair

Stories and photos from Scotland

The Book Dragon

Bargain Fantasy Book Reviews and Recommendations


Bailey and Me 💙

Lady Don't Fall Backwards

Orders must be obeyed without question at all times.


Get the most in-demand tickets cheapest


bipolar mixed type, ocd, social phobia

%d bloggers like this: