Saturday, 25 October 2014

'The Distance' Orange Tree Theatre ****

What happens when mothers abandon their young children, and have no real longing to return back? Richmond’s theatrical venue, the Orange Tree Theatre answers this meticulously with Deborah Bruce’s newest offering, ‘The Distance’, and one found the performance was phenomenally riveting. ‘The Distance’ is set on the outskirts of London at Kate and her former musician husband, Dewi's house, where one of Kate's closest friends, Bea has outrageously abandoned her two young children with their dad in Australia due to their impending divorce. Bea relies on the pretence that her soon-to-be ex-husband will be more contented in nurturing their children, compared to her. Paradoxically, Kate and their other friend, Alex completely disagree with Bea, and demands that she travels back to Australia and mother her children like mothers should do, and work to ensure that the divorce does not affect their children's well-being. We come to understand that Bea’s exceedingly depressed with her current situation, and request for some alone time, and rekindle a sense of youth, so when the London riots are becoming increasingly violent, Alex is concerned over her fifteen year old son’s safety, and asks that Dewi drives to her home, and bring them to stay at Kate’s for the night. In the process, Bea politely requests to join him, in the hope that she can spend the night partying in Brighton. Nonetheless, Kate and Alex condemn her actions because they exclaim that she is fundamentally irresponsible, and should be intelligent enough to purchase a plane ticket home, and face her duties as a parent. When she is reunited with Alex's son, Liam it appears that Liam is dumbfounded by Bea’s juvenile nature, and interrogates her for the actual reasons for rejecting her children. Contrariwise, when Liam secretly Skype’s her soon to be ex-spouse, she reacts quite sadistically, and slams the laptop shut. Liam responds angrily and nearly abuses her. Thankfully, Bea does return to Australia for her children and she acquaints herself with a hunky Australian. Bruce’s narrative is inspirational as she has allowed us to investigate the struggles of all relationships; in particular the role of the mother. One found of performances by the company of ‘The Distance’ were beautifully well characterised, and encapsulated the emotional moments with incredible ease. Helen Baxendale is tremendous as the troubled mother, Bea; especially when we witness her peril as she comes to terms with her hasty decision to vacate Australia, and leave her children with their father. Emma Beattie is exceptional as the slightly absent-minded, Alex. I particularly enjoyed the scene when she's immensely stoned due to her worrying state over her son’s location.  Clare Laurence- Moody is amazing as the somewhat assertive, Kate; specifically when we learn of the disgraceful actions that have occurred within her and Dewi’s marriage, which has caused a young teenager to never meet her father. Bill Milner is incredible as Alex’s mature teenage son, Liam; singularly when he attempts to educate Bea of her responsibilities as he's been abandoned by his father, and understands the traumas of such rejection. Charlotte Gwinner’s direction is vivid here as she has encapsulated the bothersome situation of abandoning children without actually assessing the consequences of this action. Signe Beckmann’s design is brilliant as I was immediately transfixed to the simplicity of the concept, and it does enable you to imagine the whole atmosphere of the family home even with the in the round staging. Overall, I found the whole experience of ‘The Distance’ to be superbly engaging and enormously enjoyable. Purchase a ticket for this performance. 

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