Review: BLOOD ORANGE
Image: Old Red Lion Theatre
Amy is a young Junior Doctor working in Swansea A&E, hoping to transfer to Great Ormond Street Hospital in London.
When she receives a gift from her mum, Amy's transported straight back to a childhood trauma and forced to confront feelings she didn't know she's been hiding.
Helping others is at the heart of her career but perhaps this is to make up for the one person she couldn't save?
When Amy receives a case of a boy with cancer it makes her question whether she can ever really let go of her past.
Will she find the answers she's looking for in London allowing her to move on with her life?
BLOOD ORANGE is set at Christmas in A&E and a close up look at a life of love, loss and guilt as Amy questions the ultimate truth of why she really wants to be a doctor.
This one woman play with humour and pathos allows you to immerse yourself in Amy's journey.
The minimalist staging with evocative sound and lighting adds depth to this heartfelt relatable story that has hope at its heart.
'My next patient is Santa ...'
Note: Features some strong language, flashbacks, Mental Health Issues, flashing lights, loud music, smoke machine.
Having just exited from weeks of electioneering during which considerable discussion centred on the plight of our beloved NHS and remedies to cure its ills, some of us might be suffering a touch of overload with that subject area.
And then along comes a play about a junior doctor working in an NHS hospital!
However, this show is not really about the deficiencies of the NHS - long waiting times, postponed operations, patients having to sleep on floors and the like - or even the almost unbearable plight of overworked staff.
Though BLOOD ORANGE does touch on the highly stressful work of a young junior doctor on (almost) the bottom rung of the ladder of the medical profession, the play is actually about motivations behind decisions - in this case, what work we choose to undertake.
It's also a thoughtful play about the intricately tangled emotions bound up in loss, continuing grief and unspoken, unexamined guilt that drives human beings and can undermine mental well-being.
In spite of having to endure excessively long working hours at the A & E coalface, Amy is a bright, perky (and somewhat naive) young doctor driven by a strong desire to help others and make a difference in people's lives.
Admirable though those motivations are, there's more lurking within Amy's inner psyche which ultimately forces her to confront her real purpose in applying to work in a hospital devoted to caring for sick children.
The play is set around Christmas, but that time frame could almost be coincidental rather than essential to either the storytelling or the illumination of the underlying issues.
As a device, though, it does provide an allusion to a time which underscores the importance of families and that has a strong bearing on one important element of the plot.
And it also provides a link for inclusion in the Old Red Lion's Christmas Festival - playing in tandem with an adaptation of Charles Dickens' The Signalman.
Tania Amsel performs her own piece here describing her character with genial and captivating fluency, sometimes hinting at a rather child-like, innocent persona whose motivations are bound-up with tragically poignant events from her past which still haunt her.
Working mainly with just the frame of folding medical screens, Ms Amsel's energetic and vital performance is backed-up with strong direction from Hamish MacDougall who utilises well-devised sound effects to add ample atmosphere.
Those aspects all combine to result in a watchable performance delivering important matters that have implications for many of us.
However, the hopeful denouement is less satisfactory because it suggests resolution which in reality may take time and, in some cases, professional assistance to unravel.
Links and related content
ActDrop listing for Old Red Lion Theatre
Our show listing for BLOOD ORANGE
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