Verdict: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (reviewed 23 October).

Around this time last year, we were fortunate enough to review Australian Theatre Live (ATL) On Demand – an innovative subscription platform that makes quality theatre recordings available to the best seats in the house: yours.

Kristy Marillier’s award-winning play Orange Thrower, performed and recorded at SBW Stables Theatre in front of a live audience, is the perfect addition to ATL’s growing digital library. Co-presented by Griffin Theatre Company and Riverside’s National Theatre of Parramatta, this digital release has all the qualities of high calibre recordings we have seen so far on the platform: fantastic angles and close ups, crisp video and audio quality, and a clean, intuitive interface. (However, while CC appears to be a feature, it is currently not available).

The story itself is wonderfully engaging, with all the emotion and intensity bursting through my 15-inch Mac. The performances are compelling and carry through from a live setting to a digital format, making it the perfect “theatre at home” experience.

Set in the fictional Australian suburb of Paradise, Orange Thrower invites us to the world of Zadie, a teenage daughter of South African parents who are living back home in Johannesburg. Zadie is saddled with adult responsibilities, such as taking care of her younger sister, Vimsy. All seems well on the home front with the exception of the usual sisterly fights, until an estranged family member from their past comes back to wreak havoc and turn Zadie’s world upside down.

Orange Thrower refers to the rotten citrus fruit being thrown at their house, presumably as a racist protest of their settlement in a predominately white community. Their suspicious neighbour, Sharon, certainly gives that impression. Sharon is passive-aggressive like a snarling dog baring its teeth. One false move and she’s only too happy to call the cops and dob her neighbours in. We watch the uncomfortable (and all too familiar!) interplay of casual racism being dished out, such as Sharon’s unsolicited advice about what Zadie “should do with her big Afro hair”.

The orange throwing culprit is investigated but never fully revealed, as it is a secondary storyline to what Zadie needs to resolve the most: her identity as a proud African woman. The play takes us on a journey of staying visible in a homogeneous community, and staying true to one’s identity and purpose.

The play sweeps through the serious, the surreal, and the silly, with the awkwardness of blossoming teenage romance forming a backdrop to Zadie’s growing maturity and confidence as a young woman.

Starring Callan Colley, Angela Nica Sullen, Mariama Whitton, Gabriela van Wyk, and directed by Zindzi Okenyo, Orange Thrower will have you on the edge of your seat, crying and gasping at the thrill of being young, rebellious and free.

Orange Thrower is currently available via subscription and to educators via ATL ON DEMAND. To sign up or find out more, go to the following links:

Australian Theatre Live / Trailer / Instagram / Facebook

Images: Brett Boardman

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