Precious Little Talent at the Orange Tree Theatre
Written by Ella Hickson and directed by Dominique Chapman, Precious Little Talent explores adult relationships in an evolving world. The space of the play has also evolved since its last run at Trafalgar Studios 2 in 2011. The Orange Tree Theatre brings the viewers closer to the action – like an intimate gathering – particularly since the minimalist set represents the ruins of a house. It is the immersive sound effects and narration that take spectators elsewhere. Grand Central Station is the first stop.
In a blatantly false American accent, Sam (Matt Jessup) tells the story of meeting Joey (Rebecca Collingwood), his speech earning a lot of laughs from the audience. Disillusioned by her life as a graduate, Joey is travelling to New York to visit her father, George (Simon Shepherd). She is nostalgic, but everything is different, especially George. A simple game of Trivial Pursuit reveals the truth: George has dementia, and Sam is his carer.
Regarding Precious Little Talent, Hickson said: “If we want to talk to each other, how do we do that?” Communication, or lack thereof, is definitely a main theme in the play. Joey and Sam struggle to understand each other, despite speaking the same language. From the moment they meet, hilarity ensues, from listening to the Moonlight Sonata to a comical dance scene, with crying, laughter and every emotion in between. This truly shows the versatility of the actors, who are able to change emotions in a blink, which is vital for a character like George, who is ruled by his unpredictable illness.
Joey asks everyone to imagine they have never seen Grand Central Station before, and that is not hard, as the uniqueness of the confined set truly makes everyone feel as if they haven’t. The lighting in the production is superb and immerses us in the characters’ world. There is an overhead chandelier for Grand Central Station, small lamps inside a house, and even candles.
The piece ends abruptly with Joey telling Sam to “believe in jobs, being alone, and 13-hour shifts”. This gives everyone a jolt back to the present, and their reality outside the theatre. However, Precious Little Talent does not feel complete, only touching the surface of various issues, like Joey’s mother wearing a headscarf and her lack of opportunities as a graduate. But, with a short run time, they packed as much as they could into this show.
Photo: Robert Day
Precious Little Talent is at the Orange Tree Theatre from 13th until 21st July 2018. For further information or to book visit the theatre’s website here.