Edit ModuleShow Tags

'Orange Flower Water' is Must-See Theater

The No Name Players' newest effort is a near-perfect, thoroughly heartbreaking look at two affairs.


Mike Mihm as Brad and Tressa Glover as Beth. Photo by Lauren Zurchin
 

In theater, there’s comedy, and then there’s drama. In drama, there’s drama with comic relief, and then there’s stark, all-out drama. In stark, all-out drama, there’s drama that uses metaphor and suggestion, and then there’s drama that deals with difficult topics unflinchingly and ferociously. And in stark, all-out drama that deals with difficult topics unflinchingly and ferociously, there is Craig Wright’s Orange Flower Water, the latest near-perfect effort from No Name Players.

Beth is cheating on semi-meathead husband Brad with David, who is himself stepping out on long-suffering wife Cathy. We’re not going to ease into this, though; Orange Flower Water opens in a motel room rented by Beth and David, finally seizing an opportunity to stretch out after months of hasty rendezvous in closets and cars. Even with such an explosive start, though, this isn’t the time when they realize they’re deeply in love; this is the time when Beth questions everything about their relationship and David has to push her back into compliance.

That’s the way Orange Flower Water moves; we don’t see joy, only consequence. Every scene is a confrontation, a face-to-face between two characters who have to admit the truth to one another. Brad and David patrol the sidelines of a youth soccer match in one scene, cheering on their children while Brad probes David for evidence of the affair he’s begun to suspect; in another, Cathy makes David face the practical, unpassionate realities of his decisions. This is a play of ramifications.

In less capable hands, that much on-stage weight would be tough to take; if there’s one company in town up to this sort of challenge, though, it’s No Name Players. The thoughtful and clever direction by Steven Wilson, a Pittsburgh native and Chicago colleague of the playwright, is filled with bold artistic touches that are always appropriate and illuminating, never heavy-handed. Paired nicely with a perfect design team (company artistic director Don DiGiulio as scenic designer, sound designer Ryan McMasters, lighting designer Eve Bandi and costume designer Kari Kramer,) Orange Flower Water is that rare thing among smaller companies: a careful, fully realized artistic vision.

The performers are captivating and compelling, preventing you from taking sides until they want you to. Tressa Glover (No Name’s producing artistic director) is sympathetic as Beth, but not fully trustworthy. Mike Mihm’s Brad is brash and off-putting, but surprisingly earnest. Robin Abramson’s Cathy straddles weakness and strength like it’s a conscious decision. And Ricardo Vila-Roger’s David slowly transitions from victim to culprit as the play unwinds.

About the only caution to be filed about Orange Flower Water is, itself, a compliment; this show is so powerful that it may be hard to recover from, especially in an intimate, inescapable theater like Pitt’s Studio. If you’re planning your weekend, schedule a stiff drink after the curtain falls rather than a light meal beforehand. However you have to get yourself in the mood, though, make it happen; like most everything from No Name Players, this is some essential theater.

(University of Pittsburgh Studio Theatre, Cathedral of Learning, 4200 Fifth Ave, Oakland; Thu-Sat, 8 p.m., Through July 14; $15; nonameplayers.org)
 

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module

Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags

The 412

The Joy of Cookies: Cookies Tour Enters 20th Season

The Joy of Cookies: Cookies Tour Enters 20th Season

More than 48,000 cookies will bring in holiday cheer in Lawrenceville.
Can You Name All of the Lists Pittsburgh is On?

Can You Name All of the Lists Pittsburgh is On?

Pittsburgh's first significant nationwide ranking was more than three decades ago –– and a lot has changed since then.
First-Ever Pittsburgh Cat Film Festival Makes Local Kittens Famous

First-Ever Pittsburgh Cat Film Festival Makes Local Kittens Famous

The Pittsburgh Cat Film Festival at Row House Cinema is headlined by a collection of local cat videos.
New Options and New Cheap Fares at Pittsburgh International

New Options and New Cheap Fares at Pittsburgh International

Two airlines are adding destinations from Pittsburgh and another is again offering rock-bottom fares to Europe.
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Hot Reads

Matt Murray's Focus is on the Journey, Not the Destination

Matt Murray's Focus is on the Journey, Not the Destination

The Pittsburgh Penguins goaltender already has his name on the Stanley Cup — twice. Matt Murray may be a champion, but he’s still working diligently to improve his game.
Excellence in Nursing: Meet Our 2017 Honorees

Excellence in Nursing: Meet Our 2017 Honorees

Pittsburgh Magazine highlights the unsung heroes of the health care field: our Excellence in Nursing honorees, chosen by our panel of distinguished judges in the field.
Restaurant Review: Superior Motors

Restaurant Review: Superior Motors

Kevin Sousa’s long-anticipated project fires on all cylinders as a restaurant. But, will it fulfill its larger mission?
Pittsburgh City Steps: An Artist Tells Their Stories

Pittsburgh City Steps: An Artist Tells Their Stories

Artist Laura Zurowski is on a mission to document Pittsburgh's public steps in an unorthodox way.
Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

On the Blogs


The Joy of Cookies: Cookies Tour Enters 20th Season

The Joy of Cookies: Cookies Tour Enters 20th Season

More than 48,000 cookies will bring in holiday cheer in Lawrenceville.

Comments


All the foodie news that's fit to blog
Just in Time for the Holidays: Miracle Returns to Downtown

Just in Time for the Holidays: Miracle Returns to Downtown

The over-the-top holiday-themed bar opens at the Original Oyster House the night after Thanksgiving.

Comments


Not just good stuff. Great stuff.
Meet the Winner of Our 2017 Cutest Pet Contest

Meet the Winner of Our 2017 Cutest Pet Contest

The winner received the most votes among five dogs, four cats and a bunny.

Comments


Steal the Crown Jewels at Escape Room 51

Steal the Crown Jewels at Escape Room 51

The new escape game is instantly among the best in town.

Comments


Mike Prisuta's Sports Section

A weekly look at the games people are playing and the people who are playing them.
Are Steelers Good Enough to Overcome Themselves?

Are Steelers Good Enough to Overcome Themselves?

The time has come for the offense to more often resemble what everyone thought it would become this season, as opposed to sinking on occasion to a Cleveland Browns-esque level of ineptitude.

Comments


Style. Design. Goods. Hide your credit card.
#Gottahaveit: Take It To the Hoop

#Gottahaveit: Take It To the Hoop

Robert Hallett, Goldsmith, handcrafts the jewelry in his Oakmont shop.

Comments


The movies that are playing in Pittsburgh –– and, more importantly, whether or not they're worth your time.
Justice League Could've Been Worse (But Should've Been a Lot Better)

Justice League Could've Been Worse (But Should've Been a Lot Better)

Reviews of "Justice League," "Wonder" and "Lady Bird," plus local movie news and notes.

Comments


Everything you need to know about getting married in Pittsburgh today.
One for the History Books: A Cathedral of Learning Proposal

One for the History Books: A Cathedral of Learning Proposal

This groom-to-be popped the question at new heights, potentially making him the first person to propose on top of the University of Pittsburgh’s signature structure.

Comments


Weekly inspiration for your home from the editors of Pittsburgh Magazine
Iconic Kaufmann’s Building Gets New Lease with Luxury Apartments, Hotel

Iconic Kaufmann’s Building Gets New Lease with Luxury Apartments, Hotel

The developers behind Kaufmann’s Grand on Fifth Downtown promise to meld the historic with the modern as it readies to open more than 300 units featuring voice-command system Amazon Alexa, plus a rooftop infinity pool, restaurant and bar.

Comments


The hottest topics in higher education
Tuition Increases at the University of Pittsburgh

Tuition Increases at the University of Pittsburgh

School trustees voted this week to increase tuition for in-state and out-of-state students.

Comments