The appealing concept of TeatroLatino’s The Orchestra – with its promise of entertaining jealousies and witty repartees between musicians – never really gets going in this disappointing production at the Omnibus Theatre.
The final blackout in The Orchestra signalled the end of a show that felt over before it ever started. That’s not so much because, as a performance, it’s on the shorter side at 60 minutes – but more that there’s nothing to really care about in its thin plot and generally insipid characters. The problem is compounded by how often the lines are rushed and delivery compromised, which only push the audience further away from the story still.
Amanda Osborne (as Madame Hortense, the orchestra’s leader) is easily the most well-paced and measured actor on stage. Her comedic advances on the orchestra’s only male member, Monsieur Leon (Pedro Casarin), land with the audience in a way that her fellow cast members don’t manage to replicate. A few witty repartees between the bickering violinsts (Luna Dai and Sarah Waddell) do break through, as does one musician’s absurdly woeful stories about her scandalous lover, but even these could benefit from more time being taken over their delivery.
In this production of Jean Anouilh’s The Orchestra, director Kristine Landon-Smith plumps for simplistic staging and effects. It’s true that we never leave the French café setting where the musical ensemble are performing for the café’s patrons, alternating between playing pieces and gossiping. As a result, the staging didn’t harm the play but nor did it redeem it.
The concept of The Orchestra is appealing for its Desert Island Discs-type structure and the promise of entertaining jealousies between the musicians. In reality though, there’s just so little intrigue to start with that I failed to register the climax until after the play ended. By that point, there hadn’t been enough reason to invest in character or plot – and that, for me, is where the fatal flaw lies.