Performing Arts

Theatre Review: Only An Orphan Girl

Presented by Adelaide Repertory Theatre
Reviewed 18 Novemberr 2015

I’ve seen nothing like it. This Olde Music Hall production has the crowd jeering, booing and jumping out of their seats for some of the most enjoyable hour and a half in my theatre life.

Unashamedly unrefined, the Adelaide Rep’s absurd melodrama effortlessly combines a classic show of Only An Orphan Girl with sing-a-longs, musicians and artistes galore.

orphanAn absolutely animated audience at the Arts Theatre becomes part of the production itself. Amid Henning Nelm’s script, crowd members throw themselves into every line, booing the vile villain and yearning for the hero, sure to save the day.

Though loosely referring to themselves as actors, the ensemble are clearly having as much fun as the jovial crowd – even Ray the drummer couldn’t hold back his laughs. In a script adapted by director Pam O’Grady, the theatrical tale in which a dark villain seeks to a wed an innocent young woman to steal her fortune is brought to life in this admirable performance.

orphan1Every member of the ‘dramatist personae’ makes the play outstanding. Barry Hill is a natural villain, his sinister caricature of Arthur Rutherford undermining the naïve country folks, and a laugh to haunt beyond the stage. Sophia Bubner is radiant as the lead orphan girl Nellie, adorably matched with dashing, yokel hero, Dick, played by Robert Bell. This exaggerated and kitsch show is pulled-off by the solid performances throughout, with the masterful MC Joshua Coldwell hooking the older generational crowd in with It’s A Long Way to Tipperary and Pack Up Your Trouble in Your Old Kit Bag between scenes.

Where other productions find glory in fine costumes and large-scale sets, Only An Orphan Girl asserts strength in its endearing satire, silliness and spirit.

Plus, any performance that can get the audience shouting “we want Dick, we want Dick” at the top of their lungs, is well worth a seat.

 Reviewed by Hannah Lally

Venue: The Arts 53 Angas Street, Adelaide
Season: 19 – 28 November 2015
Duration: 1hr 30min (including interval)
Tickets: $17 – $22


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