DramaNew YorkOff-BroadwayReview

Orion – Studio Theatre at Theatre Row, New York

Writer: Matthew McLachlan

Director: Joshua Warr

Reviewer: Jamie Rosler

Theatre and live performance, especially in intimate spaces, can raise the most minute details of an individual story to the heights of the universal. Looking at the ever popular and always plumbable themes of first love and romantic loss through the lens of postgraduate heartbreak, with a clear exploration of the dichotomy between head and heart, Orion has lofty aims. It falls short of its goals, but is not without revelatory moments or an obvious potential from the cast and writing. In its current form, Orion is heteronormative, white, adolescent, and traditional. It is theatre made by young people without any of the passion or progressive thinking of youth.

The cast of four works well together, and each actor (Amanda Jones, Blake Merriman, Simone Serra, and Scott Brieden) takes the opportunity for at least one moment of emotional realness and an honest connection to their characters. Playwright Matthew McLachlan makes some fascinating format choices, playing with leaps in time and direct address out to the audience. He may be on his way to something more substantial, but as the story is currently written, the stakes are too low for any of us to care about what happens to these characters, and these characters themselves are too predictable, and bland.

Alaina Hernandez designed a lovely set, but it doesn’t work well on such a small stage. The cast serves as their own stage crew, and has to move set pieces large and small several times throughout the production. Not one scene change is quick, or simple. Perhaps some of that budget could have gone into finding a wedding dress that fits the character the wears it.

It’s unclear whom this play is for, or why it should be given immediate attention at a time when the world is experiencing demonstrable political upheaval. It seems like an exploration of head versus heart could be better employed, if that’s a theme in which McLachlan remains interested. Otherwise a few white college graduates learning about first-love heartbreak and then oracularly imparting their wisdom to an audience, isn’t the best choice for live theatre in New York City.

Reviewed on 3 March 2017

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