'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 ModuleShow Tags

The 412

Watch: How Will You Remember Kunitz's Overtime Winner?

Watch: How Will You Remember Kunitz's Overtime Winner?

Check out three versions of the goal that sends the Penguins to the Stanley Cup final for a sixth time. (Hint) We think we saved the best for last.
Dinosaurs Storm the Pittsburgh Zoo

Dinosaurs Storm the Pittsburgh Zoo

Eighteen life-like, animatronic dinosaurs will spend the summer in the Steel City.
He Loves the Nickname: They Call Him Dr. Yuk

He Loves the Nickname: They Call Him Dr. Yuk

In the 45 years since coming up with Mr. Yuk, Dr. Richard Moriarty, now 77, has met many grateful parents who told him he saved their kids’ lives.
Getting Started with Startups: A Peek at Alphalab Demo Day

Getting Started with Startups: A Peek at Alphalab Demo Day

Technological innovators present what could be “the next big thing” at the Carnegie Music Hall in Homewood.
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Hot Reads

Top Ten Things to Do in Pittsburgh in June

Top Ten Things to Do in Pittsburgh in June

This month's best bets in the ’Burgh.
Best Restaurants 2017

Best Restaurants 2017

This year Pittsburgh Magazine's independent Restaurant Review Panel recognizes 34 establishments as our regions's top restaurants. Our list includes All Arounders, Killer Casual, Fancy Night Out, Best Budget and Classic Comfort establishments.
Pittsburgh Chef of the Year: Bill Fuller

Pittsburgh Chef of the Year: Bill Fuller

Bill Fuller’s portfolio includes overseeing five specialty restaurants — Eleven Contemporary Kitchen, Casbah Mediterranean Kitchen and Wine Bar, Soba, umi and Kaya — as well as 14 fast-casual Mad Mex restaurants and a full-service catering operation. Even in an increasingly competitive environment, his restaurants remain in-demand and relevant.
Pittsburgh's Best New Restaurant: Apteka

Pittsburgh's Best New Restaurant: Apteka

Apteka, operated by Kate Lasky and Tomasz Skowronski, is a vegan eatery that draws on Lasky’s sixth-generation Pittsburgh roots and Skowronski’s Polish heritage.
Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

On the Blogs


Watch: How Will You Remember Kunitz's Overtime Winner?

Watch: How Will You Remember Kunitz's Overtime Winner?

Check out three versions of the goal that sends the Penguins to the Stanley Cup final for a sixth time. (Hint) We think we saved the best for last.

Comments


All the foodie news that's fit to blog
Pittsburgh Bartenders Give Back By Keeping Time

Pittsburgh Bartenders Give Back By Keeping Time

The Pittsburgh chapter of the USBG partners with Campari USA to create a calendar that will benefit Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank.

Comments


Not just good stuff. Great stuff.
Five Inexpensive But Memorable Date Spots in Pittsburgh

Five Inexpensive But Memorable Date Spots in Pittsburgh

These spots are tailored for couples who are looking for a simple, chill night out on Valentine’s Day (or any other day). If your significant other isn’t the type to be wooed by expensive wines and chocolates, this is the list for you.

Comments


Vital Happy Hour Alert: Great Cocktails at the Wigle Tasting Room

Vital Happy Hour Alert: Great Cocktails at the Wigle Tasting Room

The third outpost of local distillery Wigle, found in the Omni William Penn Hotel, is an instant destination for cocktail fans.

Comments


Mike Prisuta's Sports Section

A weekly look at the games people are playing and the people who are playing them.
Frightened about Game 7? You Should Be

Frightened about Game 7? You Should Be

A win will send the Penguins to the Stanley Cup finals for a second year in a row and re-write team history.

Comments


Style. Design. Goods. Hide your credit card.
Make the Cut with Jonathan Moran Woodworks

Make the Cut with Jonathan Moran Woodworks

The Strip District-based woodworker's cutting boards can be custom made with the wood of your choice.

Comments


The movies that are playing in Pittsburgh –– and, more importantly, whether or not they're worth your time.
If Only the Baywatch Team Could've Saved Us From Jack Sparrow

If Only the Baywatch Team Could've Saved Us From Jack Sparrow

Reviews of "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales" and "Baywatch," plus local movie news and notes.

Comments


Everything you need to know about getting married in Pittsburgh today.
New York Bridal Designer Shares Her Secrets

New York Bridal Designer Shares Her Secrets

Pennsylvania native Jaclyn Jordan brings her newest collection to the Blanc de Blanc Bridal Boutique in Carrick.

Comments


Weekly inspiration for your home from the editors of Pittsburgh Magazine
Get to the North Side for Home & Garden Tour, Epic Yard Sale

Get to the North Side for Home & Garden Tour, Epic Yard Sale

Explore lavish homes and gardens with the West Allegheny Historic District’s annual Tour and Tasting, or go on the hunt for hidden treasure during The Great Mexican War Streets Yard Sale.

Comments


The hottest topics in higher education
Explore Your Future with Point Park University

Explore Your Future with Point Park University

The university will host three summer workshops for high school students from July 17-20.

Comments