Catalyst Theatre, The Blue Orphan

Review in Issue 14-3 | Autumn 2002

It was great to see a world premiere at Edinburgh – there seemed to be so few on the Fringe this year – from this enterprising Canadian company. The Blue Orphan shares many familiar elements with the company's previous success, The House of Pootsie Plunkett: a stunning lighting design that uses rich shades of violet blue, gold, green and deep magenta in abundance; a collection of oddball characters that speak an other-worldly poetic text; a sculptural use of still and moving figures in counterpoint.

The oppression of the familiar versus the horrors of the unknown is a theme common to both productions. In Pootsie it was the claustrophobic environment of the dysfunctional family, here it is the intensity of small town life – as lived in Crooked Creek (which, as the story begins, is poised on the brink of cataclysmic change). Catalyst Theatre explore ideas with currency in contemporary culture – in this case the proverbial wing-flapping butterfly of chaos theory and the interconnectedness of all events – but their reference points are those of myth, archetype and fairy tale. Like most famous fairy tales, from the Brothers Grimm to L. Frank Baum's Oz stories, contemporary cultural references mix in easily with the alternative world created. The Blue Orphan takes the company even further away from naturalistic drama into fantasy realms by using the much-maligned medium of music theatre, with a score composed by artistic director Jonathan Christenson who also co-writes, directs and performs in the production!

The work of Catalyst Theatre is lush and lavish, rich and romantic. It is excessive and indulgent – in the best sense of those words – like being wrapped in velvets and silks and spoon-fed strawberries with home made ice cream. What a treat!

Presenting Artists
Presenting Festival
Presenting Venue
Date Seen
  1. Aug 2002

This article in the magazine

Issue 14-3
p. 24