By harnessing aggression and exploring vulnerability, the company have created a powerful fusion of poetic drama and physical theatre.
As an ensemble, the cast work together seamlessly, weaving voices in and out of the narrative, creating and destroying characters as they go. The strength of Blood Orange lies firmly in its unflinching, abrasive energy. The cast demonstrate a superb control over their material, which creates a violence that simmers and overflows without subsuming the actors or the narrative. This does make the experience become something of an assault upon the audience. However, the intense pattern of rage and frustration works for the intensive, condensed nature of a hour-long fringe performance.
The show opens with a strobe-lit, fist-pumping sequence of tightly choreographed movement, which introduces the themes of violence and sexuality as the bodies gyrate to club music. The scene ends with the pronouncement, “Disco lives on.” The narrative unfolds from a sequence of acrid poetry from the merging voices: “Generation X wakes up to the smell of chemical breakfast.” The play demonstrates a sharp awareness of classical and Shakespearean drama – using theatrical devices such as soliloquy and asides to reveal the web of treachery that emerges out of the revenge plot. The choric effect of the various narrators at times is derivative of Greek tragedy, and the violent denouement with bodies chaotically littering the stage harks back to Jacobean tragedy. The dialogue too is strikingly poetic, ranging from an intensive lyricism to profane dialect. Allusions and references to Shakespeare are scattered throughout. There is a sustained network of imagery which assails the ear with festering earth, gardens, flowers, disease, rot and decay. Mole states at the end that they are living in “the garden of insanity” with a “bipolar fruit cocktail.” The corrupted state of the nation is brought out through the poetic language.
The play is derivative, but almost aggressively so, as if daring an audience to challenge this point. The title Blood Orange combined with the stylistic violence practically screams its debt to A Clockwork Orange. The harsh, filthy cruelty of much of the dialogue alludes strongly to Irvine Welsh’s prose fictions of contemporary Scotland. However this production is impressive in its own right as a result of a tight structure, consistently excellent acting, and an electrifying script. Electric Theatre live up to their name in this shocking and disturbing piece of theatre.