Following The Orange Tree Theatre’s triumphant return to live performance last month with Inside, it is now the turn of Outside, and it’s three debut plays, to take to the stage. Having been such a dominant theme in all our lives for well over a year now, the plays of Outside feel just as liberating as leaving the house now does, and Guy Jones has again curated three thought provoking plays.
Kicking off with Sonali Bhattacharyya’s Two Billion Beats, which tells us from the outset that these three plays will have further reach. Zainab Hasan gives an excellent performance as Asha, the smart teenager who evokes the memory of Gandhi to explore modern day racism with younger teenager Bettina, played by Ashna Rabheru.
This is followed by Kalungi Ssebandeke’s beautifully written Prodigal which sees an estranged brother and sister reunited following the death of their Mother. Through Fiston Barek and Robinah Kironde’s emotional performance we can all recognise the importance (and often frustration) of family, something which has been even more evident during the pandemic.
It is only the final play of Outside, Zoe Cooper’s The Kiss, which is explicitly, or obviously, set during the pandemic. Temi Wilkey plays Lou, one half of a couple who have just moved house, as partner Soph goes out to work, Lou is left at home on furlough.
Like so may of us at the start of lockdown Lou has big plans for her enforced free time; end systemic racism, solve child poverty and complete the tax return. But as time wears on it becomes more and more difficult to find any kind of motivation. The sense of lethargic hopelessness that makes every day feel like wading through treacle has been expertly captured by Cooper in this captivating script.
Georgia Green directs all three plays, and ties them together well with a real sense of purpose. As with Inside, we find ourselves drawn in to the heart of these plays, thanks to the smartly thought through way Outside has been filmed.
Outside is another thrilling piece of live performance, and theatre’s which are pushing themselves to their own boundaries to deliver live work should be applauded. The casts and creative team of Outside have stepped beyond those traditional boundaries to give us three very different plays, which will all manage to resonate with audiences.
Outside streams Thursday 15 – Saturday 17 April 2021 from the Orange Tree Theatre