'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

PA Turnpike: In E-ZPass We Trust, and You Should Too

PA Turnpike: In E-ZPass We Trust, and You Should Too

The turnpike wants to educate drivers to some changes arriving soon at toll booths.
It's a Sign: Could Pittsburgh Be the New Hollywood?

It's a Sign: Could Pittsburgh Be the New Hollywood?

Pittsburgh could be well on its way to replicating one of Hollywood’s most prominent landmarks.
Where in Pittsburgh to Dump Your Old TV or Computer

Where in Pittsburgh to Dump Your Old TV or Computer

You are going to want to print this list and keep it handy.
Watch: Jameson Taillon's Remarkable Recovery

Watch: Jameson Taillon's Remarkable Recovery

Sports media company Whistle Sports documented Pirates pitcher Jameson Taillon's recovery workout regime.
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Hot Reads

Top 10 Things to Do in Pittsburgh in April

Top 10 Things to Do in Pittsburgh in April

This month's best bets in the ’Burgh.
Take a Hike: 10 of the Best Trails in the Pittsburgh Area

Take a Hike: 10 of the Best Trails in the Pittsburgh Area

Lace up your sneakers or hiking boots and head outdoors for 10 great walks for spring.
412 Food Rescue: Revolutionary Repurposing

412 Food Rescue: Revolutionary Repurposing

Local nonprofit organization 412 Food Rescue is taking food that otherwise would be tossed aside and connecting it with those in need through-of-the-moment technology.
Spring Fashion: The Height of White

Spring Fashion: The Height of White

Fashion is white haute this spring with the best looks from local stores.
Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

On the Blogs


PA Turnpike: In E-ZPass We Trust, and You Should Too

PA Turnpike: In E-ZPass We Trust, and You Should Too

The turnpike wants to educate drivers to some changes arriving soon at toll booths.

Comments


All the foodie news that's fit to blog
Dish Osteria and Bar To Close

Dish Osteria and Bar To Close

The beloved Pittsburgh institution will serve its last meal in April.

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


Market Square's Big New Bar is Surprisingly Good

Market Square's Big New Bar is Surprisingly Good

You may not want to be charmed by City Works, but the beer-and-bites spot will likely win you over.

Comments


Mike Prisuta's Sports Section

A weekly look at the games people are playing and the people who are playing them.
Steelers’ Philosophy Back on Display After Hightower Flirtation

Steelers’ Philosophy Back on Display After Hightower Flirtation

Even as they entertained Dont’a Hightower for nearly seven hours during a free-agent recruiting trip to the South Side, the Steelers never lost sight of who they are or what they’re all about.

Comments


Style. Design. Goods. Hide your credit card.
Turn Your Bath into a Spa with These Oils

Turn Your Bath into a Spa with These Oils

The miniature bath- and shower-oil collection from Aromatherapy Associates makes every shower a luxury experience.

Comments


The movies that are playing in Pittsburgh –– and, more importantly, whether or not they're worth your time.
The CMU Film Fest Opens with One of 2016's Best

The CMU Film Fest Opens with One of 2016's Best

Reviews of two films appearing at the 2017 Carnegie Mellon International Film Festival: "I, Daniel Blake," and "The Eagle Huntress." Plus local movie news and notes.

Comments


Everything you need to know about getting married in Pittsburgh today.
Combating the Cold: How This Couple Pulled Off Their Winter Wedding

Combating the Cold: How This Couple Pulled Off Their Winter Wedding

Happy to see warmer weather? This gorgeous winter wedding may actually have you missing the snow.

Comments


Weekly inspiration for your home from the editors of Pittsburgh Magazine
Auction Alert: Own a Piece of Artistry

Auction Alert: Own a Piece of Artistry

Looking for a unique piece? Inventory from Artistry, which closed up shop in the Strip District after more than 25 years in business, will be sold at auction this weekend.

Comments


The hottest topics in higher education
A New Kind of Summer at Slippery Rock University

A New Kind of Summer at Slippery Rock University

The university will hold an environmental camp at the end of June.

Comments