Review: Pomona, Orange Tree Theatre

“This isn’t conversation. It’s just you telling me about your dick”

Paul Miller’s reign at the Orange Tree looked to be an interesting one from the moment he announced his debut season as Artistic Director, mixing the classic revivals for which the Richmond venue has long been known with a more cutting edge approach to its new writing policy, inviting new directors too to open up the theatre to new eyes. But not even he can have anticipated the veritable Twitterstorm of good publicity that flew up among online reviewers when Alistair McDowell’s Pomona opened last month.

Unable to resist going along (and with the distinct possibility of being able to use the above gif not too far from my mind) I was able to fit it into the diary but not ‘til right at the end of the run. Which given how close we are to Christmas, how little free time I have and the level of weariness that has set in after overdoing just how much theatre I managed to see this year, means I’m going to limit myself to the briefest of comments about a play and a production, directed by Ned Bennett, that deserves more thorough thought and investigation.

The various stories of people-trafficking, missing twins, RPG playing, criminal misdoings and much more besides are scattered throughout a fractured timeline which only slowly coalesces with a sinking sense of horror. Georgia Lowe’s pitch-perfect design turns the in-the-round stage into a sunken pit which acts as a springboard (or sewer) for the dark swirlings of the drama and there’s fiercely committed performances from the cast – Sam Swann, Sean Rigby and Nadia Clifford in particular – even if the whole thing isn’t quite the second coming promised by some.

Running time: 1 hour 45 minutes (without interval)
Photo: Tristram Kenton
Booking until 13th December

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