Writer: Joe Graham
Director: Oliver Kaderbhai
Reviewer: David Aldridge
The Public Reviews Rating:
Delirium Theatre’s Oranges On The Brain puts a stage full of fruit to very good use indeed. Joe Graham’s competition-winning script features some of the best philosophising about the colours of fresh produce since G. E. Moore’s demonstration of intuitionism through the self-evident example of oranges being – of course – yellow. As I enter and sit down in the Pegasus Theatre’s Pullman auditorium, James Groom (Duncan) is already on stage putting the finishing touches to a drawing of a pineapple. He is creating a still life illustration that goes on to evolve as the cast add to it during the piece. This is a neat mis en habime that also becomes one of the more intriguing and intimate forms of communication between Duncan and his partner Thea, played by Sarah Maguire. The success of this two-hander relies on the chemistry between the couple and I found myself thoroughly convinced by their relationship, even as naturalistic dialogue gave way to dance, choreographed by Cherwell School’s own Mr Sullivan.
The writing is witty and intelligent, with the characters’ often playful relationship offering numerous opportunities for some belly-laugh moments. This is contrasted with a genuinely unsettling score by David Saunders and phantasmagorical imagery courtesy of visual and lighting designers Colin Smith and Alex Lewer. These effects combine to produce alternately romantic, fantastic and terrifying transitions. Both cast members deal confidently and capably with a demanding range of situations, ably juggling, dancing the tango or pitching snake oil while constantly marshalling errant limes and rolling plums or punctuating their discussion with scribbled illustrations. I was constantly entertained and surprised by Joe Graham’s inventive world, and was fully immersed throughout the play’s hour-long running time, into which was packed an impressive range of emotional experiences and some searching meditation on the part that love for others plays in our ephemeral human existence.
Runs until 23rd June
Oranges On The Brain - Pegasus Theatre, Oxford,