On Thursday 25th March, the Orange Tree Theatre livestreamed the world premiere of Inside. The showing marked the triumphant return of live productions to the theatre after it was closed due to the first lockdown in March 2020. Inside is a collection of three new plays written by Deborah Bruce, Joel Tan and Joe White.

The first play was Guidesky and I, written by Deborah Bruce. It portrayed the effect that isolation had on someone who was grieving. It starred actress Samantha Spiro as Diana, a middle-aged woman mourning the loss of her mother and cleaning out her house while also dealing with the stress caused by being scammed online. Samantha Spiro brought the character of Diana to life with a realistic and emotional performance, perfectly depicting the confusion and anger caused by the character’s seclusion.

After that was When the Daffodils by Joel Tan which explored the complex relationship between an old lady called Meg, played by Ishia Bennison, and her carer Samia, played by Jessica Murran. Ishia Bennison expertly portrayed Meg’s frustration at her lack of freedom due to her age and the pandemic, while Jessica Murran created a layered performance, showing Samia’s desperation to provide care to Meg, while feeling helpless to fulfil her wish of being taken outside.

The final play, Ursa Major by Joe White, was about a “houseless” woman called Callisto, played by Sasha Winslow. It depicted her eating dinner in the home of a man suffering with OCD and anxiety called Jay, played by Fisayo Akinade, and how they both felt isolated from society in different ways. Sasha Winslow emotively portrayed the character of Callisto, while Fisayo Akinade’s performance made Jay a believable and sympathetic character, showing how people’s anxiety and mental health has been worsened by the pandemic.

The Orange Tree Theatre is a popular theatre in Richmond, with its intimate atmosphere giving its productions a distinctive feel. Even online, the performance still kept that unique ambiance, with Ben Clare, Press and Marketing Director at the Orange Tree Theatre, saying, “These new plays seem to have really touched people and they’ve commented on how much it felt like actually being in the theatre”. Many theatres have been hit hard by the pandemic, with social distancing making staging performances a challenge. “We’ve been following all government guidance through the process of rehearsals and performances. It adds a layer of thought and responsibility from everyone involved, but everything has gone very smoothly and safely,” said Ben Clare.

Overall, Inside was a wonderful experience, bringing a bit of the theatre into the home. Inside is set to be followed by another set of three plays called Outside, streaming from the 15-17th April.

For more information go to orangetreetheatre.co.uk