Tuesday, 7 August 2007

ORLANDO BLOOM- In Celebration

Last Saturday I was lucky enough to see Orlando Bloom in the play In Celebration at the Duke of York's Theatre in London. First let me say this is not the sort of play you would expect a major movie star to pick for his West End stage debut and I respect Orlando for the choice he has made. He's not the star of the play but merely a member of the ensemble cast.

In Celebration is a gritty play by David Storey set in Yorkshire in the late 1960's. It is a family drama portraying what happens when three sons come home to see their parents and celebrate their mother's birthday in a reunion which is fraught with tension. Orlando appears on the stage first, in a cleverly crafted set which portrays the small miner's cottage to perfection. He plays Steven a quiet teacher with four young children. As the play progresses we gradually learn that he is a rather depressed man, who has come to believe that his life has no real significance. His unhappiness is brought into focus by his ebullient, rather vengeful brother Andrew and his brother Colin, who is a successful but unmarried businessman.

May I say that Orlando nails the Yorkshire accent completely. I lived in Yorkshire for a few years so I should know it quite well. Frankly I would have preferred him to speak without the accent, as I think he has an attractive well modulated voice. However, I only once heard a hint of his real voice coming through for just a second in a particularly heated exchange between the brothers. Halfway through the play Steven is heard sobbing in his bed. His concerned brothers make him come downstairs and there, in front of his father, he breaks down completely. Orlando was excellent in the part, displaying the awkwardness and internal malaise and withdrawn unhappiness of Steven to perfection. It isn't an easy part to play because often Orlando has to portray Steven's unhappiness by expressions and actions rather than dialogue and the scene where he falls apart completely and sobs helplessly in front of his father and brothers is very moving. It made me wonder how he can cope with the trauma of breaking down on stage and crying (and cry he did we were close enough to see his tears) like that every night - it certainly cannot be easy.

At the end of the play nothing is resolved and they each go their separate ways to face lives that have little meaning any more. May I say that the rest of the cast are also excellent and all in all it was a fascinating, although ultimately rather sad reflection on life. There were a large number of young women in the audience, no doubt all there to see Orlando in person but thankfully there were no cheers or even murmurs of appreciation when he came on stage, which might have broken the mood of the piece. The audience were well behaved considering there was a movie heart-throb on stage in front of them.

Of course there was clapping and shouts and cheers of appreciation at the end yet during the curtain call. Orlando stayed with the other cast members, never acknowledging that most of the cheers were for him. He Just smiled at the other cast members and seemed very happy that the audience had enjoyed it.

Orlando has received some glowing review and a few critical ones, but I believe that he has shown to all his critics that he is not just a pretty face, he really can act. May I say here, even with his black hair smarmed back with brilliantine, a pencil moustache and an unflattering brown suede cardigan he is still a great looking guy. If only he'd been dressed as a pirate or an elf instead!!!

When we left the theatre, we came back to the true realty of his fame. There were so many people crowded around the stage door waiting to see him that they were blocking the road in front of the theatre. My daughter and I retired to a pavement cafe across the road and watched the furore. The waiter told us that after every performance, even matinees, Orlando comes out and speaks to his fans and signs autographs for about fifteen minutes.

We could see reasonably well from our vantage point and after a few minutes Orlando came out to graciously and cheerfully greet the crowd. He seemed relaxed and happy and he signed autographs and had pictures taken with a multitude of fans. Of course most of them were female but they were of of all different ages. We were told that the same chaos ensues after every performance. To be honest I was impressed by the fact that he took the trouble to do this after every performance. Compared to most major movie stars Orlando seems very grounded and surprisingly untouched by his fame.

To end, if you live close enough to London and are considering seeing him in In Celebration I'd definitely book tickets. It isn't the sort of play I usually enjoy but all in all I found it very entertaining. What better way to while away two and a half hours than watching In Celebration and sitting only a few feet away from gorgeous Orlando Bloom at the same time? I'd, most definitely recommend the experience.


Portia Da Costa said...

What a splendid account of your trip to the theatre, and of Orlando's performance. It really does sound as if he's far, far more than just a pretty face. I'm glad you enjoyed the evening so much! :)

Deanna Ashford said...

Thanks Portia,

I'd recommend the play. Now I hear he wants to take it to Broadway. I'm not sure how well the Yorkshire accent would go down there.