[20040048] The Blue Orphan

The Blue Orphan

Catalyst Theatre @ Scott Theatre

5:45pm, Mon 1 Mar 2004

Score: 6

Short Review: Dripping

“The Blue Orphan”, a butterfly held in high regard in the storyline, is a very lush piece of musical theatre by Canadian group Catalyst Theatre. Lush. The costumes, the backing music, the songs all have a sweet weight to them – and this only exacerbates the overpowering feeling of melancholy that drowns the show.

First up – I was not expecting this piece to be a musical. That said, even with most of the story told in sing-song rhyme, it didn’t really detract from the show – save the effect of over-emotionalising the experience. Some of the characters were wonderful – Harold the paranoid child watching shyly over his love, Jim Tibue the town recluse, the bird-girl, the Robbie Coltrane-esque Sister of the Orphanage. Narrated by young Jonah, fleeing the Orphanage into town, there’s not so much a story, more a series of character pieces.

The lighting was superb – the back- (or front-) lighting of curtains onstage to hide or present characters was superb, and the projection of shadows was also used well – witness the bird-girl’s attempts to fly! Likewise, the sound was wonderful – as mentioned before, the instrumentation of songs were lush, voices (especially the singing narrator) strong – although the arrival of the storm wasn’t great for us tinnitus sufferers.

But in the end, the lack of plot and overly mournful feel of the piece was discouraging. A lovely spectacle in parts, but not a great show.

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