Performed by The University Of Northampton School of The Arts BA (HONS) Acting
Directed by Tom Brennan
What a difference a few months and that magic “Third Year” epithet can make. I was lucky enough to see this cast in the Shakespeare double header last year in the Royal and Derngate. Back then, they were second year students, a joy to behold and stacked full of promise. Well that promise has been kept and today I witnessed a full blooded professional performance by everyone in the cast.
Orientation brings the audience right into the action from the very beginning as we are addressed directly throughout as the newest bunch of intakes into the deadly office environment. Who wouldn’t want to work for the owners of the company played by Suzy Cassels and Daniel Gray. Controlling and nauseating in equal measure but perfectly portrayed. The office is full of some amazing characters and the play tells their tales, each one of them has flesh added to them through vignettes either alone or with another person.
I will mention just a few if I may. Lucy Kitson and Jaryd Headley as potential lovers thrown together in the lift are wonderful. Unlike their lift jokes which were truly awful and perfect at the same time.
Rory Sayers is a very long suffering husband to Sophie-Rose Darby. If our serial killer had not bumped Sophie-Rose’s character off, I may well have done so myself. A truly vile and venomous woman!
The silent girl Heather (Amber Mae) was a scene stealer whenever she walked through, or joined in a group hug uninvited. Her walk was remarkable in itself looking like a marionette whose operator had lifted the string controlling her backside just a little too high! Silent throughout then suddenly thrust into the spotlight with a singing solo. Great!
Lots of laughs from Caroline Avis as Bev, yet in the second half she ensures we are left with at least a lump in our collective throat and a tear in our eye as she reconnects with her daughter, killed so many years before.
No review could be complete without mentioning Nicola, the Venezuelan/Ukrainian lady temp played by Daniel Hadjivarnava. Looking like a prettier version of the 1962 East German ladies shot-put champion, Daniel handled this tough role extremely well and I doubt he will miss the costume when the run has finished.
This play, although originally inspired by the short story of the same name by Daniel Orozco, had obviously grown as the company and director, worked together and I will wager that Mr Orozco would be thrilled to see what his work had become. The entire show was, as mentioned before, a thorough, well devised and well executed professional production. Extremely heavy on choreography, not just the sometimes frenetic and brilliant dance scenes, but the movement of a mass of characters through and across the acting area. Each move was fluid, looked unrehearsed and spontaneous and this is the proof of great choreography and hard work. I loved the stop motion scenes where the majority of the cast froze in place while another brief vignette was performed right there in their midst. This leads on to the lighting and the placement of the actor on the right spot for the right spotlight. Faultless! Not an inch out of place, no face left in partial shadow.
All in all this was an amazing, wonderful and thought provoking piece of theatre. As the programme said, not a tale of heroes and heroines but the same people that you and I bump into on our daily journey through life. The second group who perform in early December has a lot to live up to and the bar has been set very high in this production.
One final personal highlight was the off stage piano playing by Lucy and Caroline during “Last Christmas”. I am not sure how many saw it, but I did and loved it.
Congratulations to you all and I am looking forward to seeing you all again, on stage very soon.