Onions, it seems, are like family: they come in different shapes and sizes, are multi-layered, and can sometimes make you cry. At least that appears to be a theme of this evolving new show from Norwich-based Orange Skies Theatre.
The performance centres around three 20-somethings – the cast and creators Daisy Minto, Rachel Elizabeth Coleman, and Adam Fullick presenting as themselves – as they deal with and support each other through various, largely unspecified, anxieties.
The 50-minute production toys with theatrical convention, with audience engagement, conversations with technicians, and apparent improvisation and interruption – although the fact it comes in dead on its expected run time suggests this is more scripted than it at first glance appears.
The narrative, however, is beyond fractured and this is the greatest challenge for the audience. The piece is effectively a series of vignettes – dance numbers, circus-style performance, lip-synching to Dusty Springfield, and a lot of tomfoolery with onions – and while individually enjoyable it is not always clear how they relate to each other, the ‘characters’, or the rest of the auditorium.
(It also means that it’s impossible to tell whether Fullick’s infuriating inability to properly use a broom is a deliberate expression of his character’s ennui, or just inexplicably poor sweeping technique.)
Minto’s dramatic persona has the clearest story around a family revelation, but we only get circumspect clues about what might be eating Coleman and Fullick. Fullick’s cyr wheel performance is enjoyable, but sits ostensibly outside of the story; the same is true of a funny but mystifying segment where Coleman’s clothes are stuffed with onions.
By trying to do so much we get some high-impact interludes but the overall impression is diluted, with stagecraft prioritised over signposting a story.
Wild Onion is in its infancy, with the company backed by Norwich Theatre’s supported artist scheme to develop and tour it, with dates in Brighton and Edinburgh planned. There are some good seeds here, they just need to grow a little.