first night

Orcs The Musical

Tolkien meets Mary Poppins, what could possibly go wrong? Felix Stevenson finds out...

Ooook! Productions


As I brought my hands together to applaud fifteen orcs and a wizard bowing during the curtain call of Orcs The Musical I began asking myself what exactly it was that I had just witnessed for the last two hours. Was it a musical? The songs were so out of tune and dance routines so out of time, I came to the conclusion, it was no musical. A parody perhaps? In order for it to live in this genre it would have to be a funny imitation of a serious piece of literature. It was no parody. In fact the more I thought about it, and applauded, the more I realised Reesha Dyer (writer/director) had not only managed to create a piece of theatre that failed to fit in any genre, she might have just created a whole new genre itself. Orcs The Musical in my eyes must have been a parody, of a parody. That is to say, this was a rip off, of a rip off, of Lord of the Rings. Confused? So was I, which was why I kept applauding.

Once I had taken my seat I noticed that I could see the cast preparing behind the curtain, thanks to a reflective cover to a notice board hanging on the wall to the hall. A sloppy, unprofessional mistake, or a piece of artistic genius? I couldn’t help but feel the former, but it was this dichotomy that I wrestled with for the remainder of the show. The plot on the other hand was a little more obvious. Hafa (Danny Pitts), an Orc, falls in love with Princess Claudia (Antonia Perna), an Urka, and thus brings peace to the two sworn enemies, much to the disappointment of Frey, the pantomime villain (Henry Allen).

As the first scene got under way we were introduced to arguably the strongest member of the cast, Bard-Face ‘the narrator’. Whilst David Whittle had obvious comic timing, the problem was his set of punch lines. With gags like, “Ducket has more testosterone than a rugby match” I couldn’t help but give out a little groan, but then that was what I was supposed to do, wasn’t it? The first ‘song’ was ‘Orc is the word’ and thus started the theme of this show; using famous songs from famous musicals, inserting lyrics about Orcs, and in the process butchering each and every one of them. Leenie the Goblin must be commended for her painful, yet amusing, performance of ‘Supergoblingoesballisticdemonsareatrocious’. However the strongest attribute of the production was undoubtedly the make-up (Karina Dar Juan) and the costumes, which were wonderfully creative and fun-my personal favourite was a soft toy snake being used as a hat.

The show was littered with what seemed to be huge mistakes. How could you leave a fake beard lying in the centre of the stage for two whole scenes, or plunge the stage into darkness before the actors had finished speaking, or struggle sheathing a sword so obviously made of rubber you could hear it bounce off the objects it repeatedly collided with? However it dawned on me that perhaps the whole thing had been deliberately toned this way. Perhaps it really was a parody of a parody. Perhaps.

Despite my confusion, the rest of the audience seemed to find the whole show hugely funny, and even started clapping along to an appalling rendition of “I’m An Orc And You’re An Urka”. In essence, Reesha Dyer managed to redefine the term ‘parody’ and in the process offer audience members one of the most unusual nights of entertainment you might want to buy in Durham.


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Felix Stevenson

4 February 2012

The views expressed in the reviews and comments on this page are those of the reviewer, and are not representative of the views of DST or Durham University.
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