Stream the Orange Tree’s THE FALSE SERVANT from 26 to 29 July

photo by The Other Richard

Great news for theatre fans not yet ready to return in person. The Orange Tree’s much-praised production of Martin Crimp’s translation of Pierre Marivaux’s THE FALSE SERVANT is available to watch online on demand any time from Tuesday 26 July at 7.30pm BST right through until to Friday 29 July at 11.59pm BST.

When a man thinks he can cynically take a rich woman’s money and then run off with an even more lucrative potential fiancée, he’d best not tell the fiancée by mistake. Le Chevalier, a woman disguised as the son of an aristocrat, embarks on a plan that will expose the dark heart of this male power-play.

This version by Martin Crimp was acclaimed at its 2004 National Theatre premiere by The Telegraph: “Thrills, chills, and belly laughs – this addictively adult comedy has got the lot.”

Paul Miller directs, following his earlier acclaimed production of Marivaux’s THE LOTTERY OF LOVE. Martin Crimp’s prolific international career began at the Orange Tree Theatre, including their recent hit revival of DEALING WITH CLAIR.

“Marivaux’s scepticism, irony and fascination with money and sex make him seem peculiarly modern” The Guardian

This streamed on demand performance will be available to watch from Tuesday 26 July at 7.30pm BST to Friday 29 July at 11.59pm BST and is available with captioning by Stagetext.

If you have any questions or problems, please read the frequently asked questions for advice.
Tickets are available at £15, £25, £32 – you are requested to pay what you can within these guidelines.

Book your streaming opportunity here

2022 JMK Award winner announced, will play at the Orange Tree

It has just been announced that the winner of this year’s JMK Award is
Indiana Lown-Collins with her proposed production of THE SOLID LIFE OF SUGAR WATER by Jack Thorne, designed by Ica Niemz.

The JMK award was established in memory of James Menzies-Kitchin, who was a young theatre director who died suddenly and unexpectedly at the age of 28, to encourage others to fulfil their potential as he had promised to do. The award does this by providing funding for a production selected by an emerging director. In the last few years, the Trust has teamed with the Orange Tree Theatre to provide a home for these productions, to great acclaim.

The winning production will be playing at the Orange Tree Theatre in Richmond from 15th October.

Congratulations to all involved!

For more information about the JMK Trust and the JMK Award, click here

A young white woman with blonde hair tied up, sits at a desk with a notepad in front of her.
Photo by Matt Pereira

Dame Judi Dench in conversation

Filmed a few months ago at Richmond’s Orange Tree Theatre, here is a chance to see and hear one of our national theatre treasures, Dame Judi Dench, in conversation about her life and career.

Presented as a fundraiser for the Orange Tree, the 90-minute recording is now available to rent for just £4.99, which will go towards the theatre’s fund to ensure its survival and reopening after the current crisis has passed. The recording is available to view until May 31st.



THE SUGAR SYNDROME Plays the Orange Tree Theatre, Richmond until February 22nd. Tickets and Information here

IN BRIEF Challenging debut from Lucy Prebble hits home in sensitive revival with an outstanding lead performance

It’s 2003 and the internet is an unsophisticated, labyrinthine beast – a thrill-ride. But for teenagers, it’s excitingly dangerous, new and thrillingly sexual – where you can create your own online personality. Online Dani is a sharp, flirty, confident person. Offline Dani is a troubled 17 year-old with an eating disorder and a need to ‘fix’ others. But when her fantasy and reality “worlds collide”, things aren’t as binary as they first appeared…

Dani meets ex-teacher Tim in a park playground. It’s a shock for him- he thought she was an 11-year old boy. With the sexual aspect removed, Dani and Tim create something akin to a friendship. She offers a listening ear. He accepts. Freed from expectation, they can talk openly about their issues. When a row results in Dani leaving home, Tim offers her shelter. When a drunken evening ends badly, he pulls back and she reverts.

It is only when confronted by the disturbing evidence of what Tim gets gratification from that a realisation dawns that this is not something she can fix in him. That realisation causes a reassessment of her other relationships, most notably with her mother, resulting in a reconciliation and a hopeful ending.

A top-notch cast is lead by Jessica Rhodes, who is mesmerising in a highly accomplished performance as Dani, a very difficult role, even more impressive as this is her professional debut. Rarely offstage during the play’s two hour running time, she gives an intricate, nuanced, insightful portrayal of this fragile, smart, emotionally-hungry young woman at a turning point in her life. Tim is effectively played by John Hollingworth with a muted, wounded restraint which generates a kind of sympathy – up to a point. Alexandra Gilbreath worries and paces to effect as the discarded wife and mother – we feel for her as time passes by, cruelly diminishing her. Ali Barouti successfully breathes anxious life into young Lewis, another online encounter, whose connection with Dani lasts longer than the one-minute hand-job she “fixes” him with. We feel for him in his lament at why good women go out with bad men.

Lucy Prebble’s debut play from 2003 is an assured treatment of difficult and controversial subjects, artfully blending surprising moments of humour which arise naturally from the characters, giving a real human edge to the script, and it succeeds with aplomb in this timely revival directed with care and understanding by Oscar Toeman.

Sound and lighting add to the production (particularly the nostalgic sound and flickering LED lights of old-fashioned dial-up internet!), and the minimal set is simple and effective.

THE SUGAR SYNDROME is yet another first-class revival from the adventurous management of the Orange Tree. I’m looking forward to the rest of the season.

THE SUGAR SYNDROME Plays the Orange Tree Theatre, Richmond until February 22nd. Tickets and Information here


IN BRIEF Playful, compassionate exploration of a young girl’s grief brings more joy than sadness, expertly played and directed.

“This is my presentation…I hope you will not be bored”. A tall nine-year old girl, Giraffe (so nicknamed by “the woman that was my Mother”) prefaces her talk by defining a catalogue of words she has learned from her beloved dictionary. We are whisked into her home life, as her unemployed actor father faces too many bills and too little money. Giraffe’s favourite Discovery Channel (“not a luxury”, she chides us) is cut off, so she decides to take matters into her own hands to find the 53,507 euros it will cost for her to have the Channel for the rest of her life (she confidently assumes she will live to be 100). Together with her shockingly foul-mouthed teddy bear Judy Garland they set off on an adventure to rustle up the said sum, meeting along the way a disillusioned old man, a potential paedophile, Chekhov and a depressed bank teller, as well as the Prime Minister of Portugal.

So far, so bizarre. But as the climax of the adventure approaches, it comes into focus that the hub of the story is about Giraffe working through the grief of her mother’s loss, and trying to make sense of the world. This culminates in her realisation that you can’t pass laws to make everything right, and that logic does not always explain events or why they happen. Or, “the day I grew up” as she describes it. And that on these occasions, words just aren’t enough.

Writer Rodrigues captures compassionately both the joy of childhood fantasy and the sheer unstructured-ness of play, and the sadness of reality’s inevitable erosion of that charming state as it brings light and shade to the initially binary reactions. Mark O’Thomas’s meticulous translation (from the original Portuguese) manages to preserve the age-specific use of language which gives texture and credibility to the script.

Eve Ponsonby balances Giraffe’s earnestness and logic with a wilder, more playful way of thinking. Her inquisitive eyes and ears intake and evaluate every thought, word, feeling and sound in a torrent of sensation. Ponsonby beautifully and skilfully captures Giraffe’s moment of transition.

Nathan Welsh as ragged, stroppy, fabulously swear-y Judy Garland has a whale of a time with his role, vocalising as he does some of Giraffe’s unspoken inner thought processes. Gyuri Sarossy effectively plays a range of more down to earth supporting roles, best as the loving but terrified father clinging to his mantra “everything will be alright”.

Director Wiebke Green’s whole production strikes a delicate balance between joy and sadness without falling into sentimentalism or childishness, which could have been quite easy with such an unusual script which sometimes borders on the surreal. Lex Kosanke’s sound design adds and accentuates accompanying sounds to a range of situations, heightening the drama as Giraffe sees and hears it.

The working through of grief is complex and troubling for anyone, let alone a young child. But the compassionate, amusing and quirky way that Rodrigues explores his subject’s thoughts reminds us, in a bitter-sweet way, that growing up was never easy. If we let it, Green’s deft production can find the child in all of us.

SADNESS AND JOY IN THE LIFE OF GIRAFFES played in the Directors’ Festival at The Orange Tree, Richmond from 3-11 August. Details here

For information about the unique MA Directing course at St Mary’s University, Twickenham, details here