Blood Orange

Blood Orange is a modern tragedy of politics, race, religion and ethics. This show, written and directed by Graham Main, addresses the terrifying and corrosive presence of the Scottish Defence League (a far right organisation akin to the BNP) in rural Scotland. A young man, Zander, has lost his mother and his father is out of a job. The dangerous racist Mole taps into existing prejudice against the Pakistani shop-owners, drawing Zander into a bloody crusade of revenge. By harnessing aggression and exploring vulnerability, the company have created a powerful fusion of poetic drama and physical theatre.

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.

Reviews by Sarah Grice

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The Blurb

Set in Scotland’s club scene past, with a cocktail of drunken, disgusting cruelty. A young man loses control of his tolerance for race, religion and faith in a tragedy about rural Scotland being invaded by the SDL. Zander loses his mum and he blames those Asian market sellers for his dad shutting down the shop. Mole lurks on the top soil of Zander's darkest thoughts only to unleash a racist crusader to deliver the fatal blow. Blood Orange examines the turbulent rise of the new far right in modern Scotland. Written by Graham Main.

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