It's time for my review of Utility.
This weekend, I thought that it would be a good idea to visit one of my favourite local theatres, The Orange Tree! Currently playing at the Orange Tree is prize-winning play Utility, which has been written by young American playwright Emily Schwend.
Utility centres around Texan young mother Amber, who is juggling two nearly full-time jobs and three kids. Her on-again, off-again husband Chris is eternally optimistic and charming as hell, but rarely employed. The house is falling apart and Amber has an eight-year old’s birthday party to plan. As Amber struggles to keep things from boiling over, she is forced to confront reality – she is a stranger to the person she once was and the person she thought she might be. The storyline follows a fairly simple premise, but I would personally argue that Utility's main feature is not its story: it's the characters within the show. Utility follows four different characters, all of which are highly interesting. All four of them have their own different problems, whether they are aware of them or not, and they all have their own views on society, with each of them expressing these opinions in different ways. The interactions and dynamic created with these characters makes for interesting viewing, and there is some very well-written and meaningful dialogue throughout the course of the play. Emily Schwend's writing is truly excellent, however there was one issue that I took with the play's storyline, and the issue was that I felt a little underwhelmed by the ending of the play. Once Utility had come to a close, it felt as if it should not be ending yet and there were dozens of questions left unanswered. There were still areas and themes for the play to explore by the time it had ended. Utility currently stands at 1 hour and 35 minutes, and I feel that it could definitely go on longer than this.
Personally, my favourite aspect of Utility was its stellar cast. Each member of the cast created a fascinating characterisation for their individual roles, and it was clear that they all had great chemistry with one another. In addition to this, the Texan accents used by this English cast appeared to be highly realistic; there was not a hint of an English accent in any of the portrayals. In the leading role of Amber, stars Robyn Addison. Addison creates a very realistic portrayal of Amber, making it impossible not to emphasise with the character. Addison had crafted what I would deem a highly believable and honest performance. Performing as Amber's lazy husband, Chris, is Robert Lonsdale. Lonsdale was also exceedingly convincing, and created a very good characterisation. As Chris's brother, Jim, was Matt Sutton. Sutton provides a nuanced performance, which ensured that his character provided the calming influence amongst the otherwise chaotic life of Amber and Chris. Therefore, Sutton's performance contrasted well with Robyn Addison's portrayal of Amber.
Finally, in the role of Amber's Mother Laura, is Jackie Clune. Clune was clearly very experienced on the stage, and added a lot to the production.
The featured star of Utility is, drum roll please... ROBYN ADDISON!
Whilst all four cast members were excellent, it was Robyn Addison's heartfelt performance of Amber that stole the show. Addison was highly believable in the role of Amber, therefore making it impossible not to want to root for the character. Addison is a highly skilled actress and I'm sure she is destined for great things.
Now for my final verdict on Utility. I give Utility...
Utility appears to have divided opinions, however I would say that I hold an overall positive view on the play. Whilst it is not without its flaws, the characters within the play and their interactions make for fascinating viewing.
Think it should have got a higher rating? Agree with my rating? Think it should have got a lower rating? If so comment below.
Thanks for reading!