After more than a year of living through this pandemic, with multiple lockdowns and no live theatre, I was very excited to watch this production of Outside, a collection of three short plays directed by Georgia Green, even if it was from the comfort of my own home and not actually seated at Orange Tree Theatre itself. So I settled down on my sofa, turned on my laptop, and I was immediately transported back into the world of live theatre.
Outside is the follow up production to Inside, both forming a series of plays exploring the threshold between inside and outside. It is certainly a threshold that has been brought sharply into focus over the last year. Many of us have been forced to question our priorities, navigate our physical space better and learn to value our freedoms more than ever.
The first, Two Billion Beats, written by Sonali Bhattacharyya, is certainly the most captivating of the three. It is about two teenage sisters and features excellent performances by Zainab Hassan and Ashna Rabheru. With a strong script and interesting themes around racism I felt we were off to a very good start. Kalungi Ssebandeke’s The Prodigal, although beautifully written, felt a bit underwhelming in comparison. Although both actors put in solid performances, at points the interaction between Fiston Barek and Robinah Kironde didn’t feel that convincing. The collection of short plays finished with Zoe Cooper’s The Kiss, the only play to be obviously set during the pandemic. It is a play that is very heavy with dialogue. Sole performer Temi Wilkey does well, but the slightly wordy script means the production fails to finish with a bang.
Nevertheless, I really enjoyed the feeling of watching live theatre once again. The camera work throughout is excellent and apart from one small technical issue, the online production is impressive.
So even if this particular collection of short plays fell a bit flat, I would certainly head back to watch more online streams from The Orange Tree. It was just wonderful to feel the magic of live theatre again.
Written by: Sonali Bhattacharyya, Kalungi Ssebandeke and Zoe Cooper
Directed by: Georgia Green
Produced by: Orange Tree Theatre
Outside has completed its current run. Please check Orange Tree Theatre’s website for further details.