Theatre

Greenwash @ Orange Tree Theatre, Richmond



cast list
Joy Richards, Jonathan Guy Lewis, Carolyn Backhouse, Richard Attlee, Miranda Foster, Amanda Royle and Stephen Beckett

directed by
Sam Walters
Given the sudden surge of interest in all things green and enviromentally sound, it surprising there aren’t more plays that deal with these issues.

David Lewis’s latest, Greenwash, is a comedy with an eco-theme, exploring issues of politics, oil and climate change.

Set in a penthouse flat on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, the play centres around Alan, a PR consultant currently working for Big Oil.

He has decided to stage an ‘intervention’ for his friend Charlie, a former Presidential candidate – now an alcoholic. In order to do this, Alan has invited along a therapist, Wanda, to mediate as well as his married friends Michael, a journalist, and his wife Lauren, and Charlie’s eco-warrior sister Grace – who Alan also happens to be in love with.
But when Charlie’s estranged wife Nancy, the director of an oil company, unexpectedly turns up, the night becomes more than Alan bargained for, with long guarded secrets rising up to the surface.

Understandably, given the New York setting, David Lewis’ dialogue is fast-paced and wordy. Even so, the play takes a while to warm up, and the initial scenes feel a little dull and unexciting. However once it gets going and the focus moves from politics and the environment to the actual relationships between the characters, it becomes much more engaging.

While the play contains some genuinely funny jokes and amusing moments, the second half feels as if it could do with some serious editing as the action takes far too long to play out. Having said that, Lewis has done a good job at combining an almost farcical storyline with more serious topics and his well informed script gives you much to ponder.

Sam Walters’ production works well within the Orange Tree’s intimate in-the-round theatre. The play is well suited to the space and regular Orange Tree designer Sam Dowson has created a set capable of accommodating the constant exits and entrances that form part of the play’s comic tension.

The performances of the cast are somewhat mixed. Jonathan Guy Lewis is excellent as the OCD, germ-obsessed Alan and his American accent is immaculate. However Joy Richards’ attempt at an English-slash-West-Indian-slash-Latin American accent is distracting and her performance unconvincing.

While the play does have some over extended moments, for the most part it’s an effectively written, skilfully directed comedy that grapples with some interesting and relevant issues.



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