Review: Orange Tree Theatre Festival Programme 1 @OrangeTreeThtr

These are three brand new short plays about death but they could hardly be more different from one another. The first, Closer Scrutiny, deals with a dying astrophysicist talking to his cellular biologist daughter. The second, Duck, Death and the Tulip, is a sweet children’s story about the character Death making friends with a duck told with the use of puppets. The third, Skeletons, by David Lewis who wrote Seven Year Twitch, looks at the impact on a family six months after the father has died. It looks at the three adult children, variously screwed up sa a result of their mother’s Roman Catholicism and their father’s alcoholism, now trying to cope with each other and with their mother’s Alzheimers. Somehow, it manages to balance humour and sadness very cleverly and very entertainingly.I keep changing my mind whether Closer Scrutiny or Skeletons is the better play – in fact they are both excellent, with the lighter interlude taking us away from tense family relationships. A marvelous triple bill and a wonderful farewell to Sam Walters retirement as Artistic Director. The Orange Tree has given me great pleasure for at least 30 years and I can only hope that his successor will build on that achievement.

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