‘Orange Skies’ theatre companies new play ‘In Addition’ was on face value a small piece; two actors, a handful of lights and an hour in length however it was far from small in its impact.
Written and directed by ‘Orange Skies’ founder Daisy Minto, In Addition follows young couple Sheyna (Rachel Elizabeth Coleman) and Ben (Lewis Sinnadurai Allum) and their struggles in a near-future Britain with a newly privatised NHS. A concept that in our current times does not seem at all un-feasible making this new piece of writing extremely relevant and poignant; it put into perspective what an impact this move could have on daily aspects of our life that we now take for granted.
This play, however, is more than simply a one finger salute to the government, it is a piece with a heart. The couple are faced with the constant turmoil of choosing money or health, both for themselves and their aging parents. The strain placed on Shawna and Ben is beautifully depicted through the play’s honest language and the powerful use of physical theatre.
Allum and Coleman had a lovely dynamic as the couple; there was truth and softness in their intimacy – Ben lovingly referring to Shawna as ‘Bean’. However there was equal truth in their conflict, often depicted through stylised movement sequences which were greatly impactful. These sequences often visualised what couldn’t be spoken, with mental health acting as a prominent theme, it allowed the character’s internal struggles to be explored in a really beautiful way. The play dealt with mental health with the same significance as physical health which I think is not done enough. ‘I’m just tired all the time’ was a poignant line for me in reference to Ben describing his struggles with depression. It was refreshing to see a depiction of mental health that wasn’t contrived or over exaggerated; both actors’ performances were stripped back and thoughtful.
The set consisted of one fluorescent bar light, a handful of handheld lights and an amp which were manipulated by the actors, the handheld lights, for example, being used often to depict the light of a phone. Simplistic, yes, but effective. The play heavily discussed the use, or overuse, of technology in our day to day lives and our reliance on it. The actor’s vocalising their use of tech, ‘okay google’, added hilarity while highlighting our millennial generation’s addiction to the social world – it raised the question whether social media is really providing a connection between people or creating a disconnect? Ben’s character lands himself a job working as an editor with a big shot ‘YouTuber’ which later brings up particularly pertinent issue regarding a handful of YouTubers using their power to manipulate viewers, with reports of sexual abuse within the YouTube community. An extremely relevant and ongoing issue which I had not seen discussed in theatre previously. It was clear ‘In Addition’ had been written and created by artists who fully understood the issues facing our modern generation, the piece, therefore, felt extremely fresh and not at all preconceived.
The score was written by YouTuber Christopher ‘Bing’ Bingham and complimented the piece well and was particularly powerful during the more intense physical sequences. The soundtrack conformed to the contemporary nature of the piece. The score also made use of the soundtrack of our generation, the text notification, as well as using pre-recorded dialogue – all of which were slick.
The play was performed as part of the Bedford Fringe being held at The Quarry theatre between the 18th and 22nd of July with over 50 events between their three stages. The Fringe consists of work from children’s theatre to comedy, as well as giving you the opportunity to see work previewed before the Edinburgh Fringe – In Addition being an example of this. It’s the perfect opportunity to explore new writing and support smaller theatre companies such as Orange Skies.
‘In Addition’ is being performed at the Edinburgh Fringe between the 2nd-26th August at 10.50am in the Underbelly, Cowgate stage to which I completely recommend anyone attending this year to take the time to see this captivating new piece that will, like all good theatre should, leave a lasting impression on you.
Megan is an actor-musician originally from Northampton. She is a recent graduate of Surrey-based theatre company Peer Productions. In her spare time, she enjoys writing, watching live theatre, going to gigs and befriending dogs.