Order, The Lantern Theatre’s professional production debut sees the gorgeous 84 seat theatre tell their own stories, rather than play host to others.
Written by Artistic Director, Martin Derbyshire and Chief Executive Matt Risby, it is advertised as ‘A love story in two acts’. It is safe to say it is not your traditional love story.
Dark and intimate, the audience is plunged into the quick paced dialogue of the two actors from the very beginning; a pace that is relentless until the end.
It is theatre in its most simplistic form, no scenery or costume changes, no distractions.
Invited into the couples first meeting after a year apart the audience meets the characters, Robert, Yorkshire born, gentle and bear like and Katie, young and beautiful but wirey, angry and awkward. Sat at a grey table the couple is enclosed by filing cabinets leaving a confused audience to question where they are and how they got there. With a blast of whirring gramophone music the story rewinds to Katie and Robert’s beginning. The dark progression of their relationship then unfolds from there.
Stripped down with the ambition of probing human emotion and challenging the audience’s concept of love and evil, Order almost achieves it. It is let down by Katie’s (Samantha Robinson) and Robert’s (Richard Marriott) hesitancy to ease into character, 20 minutes to warm up is something the play cannot afford with a running time of only one hour and 20. The couple lack chemistry, the kiss is unnatural, not passion led or foolish.
However, both have moments of violent brilliance and the ‘romance’ is suitably stomach churning as the deluded Robert preys on Katie’s youth.
Order’s length is problematic. In some ways too short to deal with it’s meaty subject but in other places conceding to gratuitous rage-filled rallying between the couple, which can feel laboured and become boring rather than shocking. Nevertheless, the twist and conclusion is fantastic. The extremities of human behaviour and fantasy are revealed and whilst inexplicable and uncomfortable, it is believable. There’s strong language and black humour and the play itself perfectly compliments it’s surroundings in The Lantern. A great debut from the theatre, that makes for a promising future of exciting dramas.