Edinburgh Fringe 2011
Terry Orange has created a vibrant fantasy world to deny himself the truth of his life’s predicament. Having taken over his late father’s launderette business, he lives in a dream world uniquely his own until an old school crush turns up one day and his meticulously constructed fantasy begins to disintegrate.
We are greeted by Terry Orange, our play’s hero, with a playful homage to the 1980’s Levis advert complete with “You Heard it on the Grape Vine” music whilst dancing in boxer shorts with an upright vacuum cleaner. When this dance transforms into a sex scene with this household implement it is clear we are quite far from pre-watershed TV advertising. Enter Melanie Baxter, a teenage crush from his school days, unexpected and right at the climax of his inappropriate brush with the Hoover!
From this beginning a story emerges through the use of three fantasy sexualised female characters, a disembodied male ‘super-ego’ voice, who taunts our hero with “You are nothing Terry, don’t you think it’s time you killed yourself”, and later a boy, the image of Terry’s repressed true emotional self. The three female characters all are fantasised and distorted versions of earlier models experience by Terry growing up. On one level the play is a heretically funny comedy and at a deeper level is actually a quite disturbing family tragedy, born out and lived by our hero Terry Orange.
Those of us that have not lived through serious family trauma will still be able to recognise ourselves in some of the words of the script, for fantasy is at the very heart of consciousness, and all of us live with it and through it to a greater or lesser degree – and all of us have parents. However, the piece avoids being maudlin by never quite taking itself too seriously and always erring on the side of the comic bizarre to avoid diving straight into the abyss. It is an uneasy tension, but one fit for the purpose and one that the light comic-strip acting helps to sustain.
Although the sexualised female characters at times spout off-the-shelf pop psychology mantras to elucidate the hidden trauma, as it happens the diagnosis that transpires in the course of the play is wholly believable, deep and erudite. As Terry gains consciousness of who he really is and why he has chosen the agoraphobic lifestyle of one who never ventures into the real world outside of the launderette, where the play is set, he will have to make a choice between the real and the imaginary.
This is a really great piece of work that can be viewed as an outrageous comedy and deeply moving living family tragedy at one and the same time. Not an easy thing to achieve. By the close I had tears in my eyes and I warmly recommend it to everyone.