Only an Orphan Girl // Theatre Review

Unique, hilarious and packed with spirit, Only an Orphan Girl is one of the most entertaining and bold theatre shows around!

Imagine a room full of people shouting “we want Dick”, except this isn’t a high school party… it is the mostly elderly audience of Adelaide Rep’s latest show.

Only an Orphan Girl is a classic music hall show that epitomises good old-fashioned fun. The over the top production caters for every theatre appetite. With everything from comedy to drama and even a fake explosive, the show really satisfies any age group.

The show, directed by Adelaide’s own Pam O’Grady, is a very interactive one. The audience is urged to join in with songs like “It’s a Long way to Tipperary”, to cheer on the hero (Dick Perkins, played by Robert Bell) and hiss at the villain (Arthur Rutherford, played by Barry Hill).

Unapologetically raw, the distinctive melodrama has the audience literally jumping out of their seats. Try wiping the smile off your face while the elderly lady sitting next to you is standing up begging for the hero, Dick, to reappear on stage.

Pam O’Grady’s version of the dramatic tale is brought to life in this show, aided by the audience who essentially become a part of the production itself.

Although we are told to expect a cast that “loosely refer to themselves as actors”, the acting was nothing but brilliant. Their ability to improvise and communicate with the crowd while maintaining their characters really made the production stand out from any other. Throughout the comical melodrama, the underlying themes of fear and triumph were clearly portrayed, which contributed to the crowd’s eager participation.

Sophia Bubner is excellent in the lead role of orphan, Nellie. Her innocence makes for a very loveable character, and with the dashing farm-boy hero Dick by her side, the dynamic duo win the crowd over within the first few scenes.

Only An Orphan Girl - Barry Hill and Sophia Bubner - pic credit Norm Caddick

Sophie Bubner as ‘Nellie’

Barry Hill is also spectacular in the performance as villain, Arthur Rutherford.  The mischievous cackle and sly twirling of his mustache right from the beginning exposes his menace ways, and the audience did not shy away from letting him know their disapproval of his actions.

The exaggerated show is executed fabulously, with fantastic performances from the entire cast, including the hilarious MC Joshua Coldwell who is able to engage the crowd even more with singalongs between scenes.

Pam O’Grady was able to direct a production that captures the essence of the 19th Century Music Hall. With a simplistic set design, Pam allows the story line of Only an Orphan Girl and the acting of the cast to really shine. Charming and packed with soul, the show captivates the audience and has the audacity to make everyone in the room bust up laughing.

Only an Orphan Girl is a show you have to go and see! With a dash of sarcasm, terror and romance, the show is certainly one of a kind and rewards the audience with a whole lot of amusement.


Images: supplied

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