Don’t despair if you cannot go to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival this summer. There is a plethora of productions previewing in London. One of those little gems is this award winning show by Flight of the Escales, created and performed by Artistic Director Sarah Calver, which has its UK premiere at the Ovalhouse.

I Gave Him an Orchid

In 1885 Sarah Henley threw herself off Bristol Suspension Bridge because of a broken heart. She survived. Little has changed since then, we are still preoccupied with love and all its complications. Sarah Calver’s darkly humorous show explores heartbreak by interweaving the story of Sarah Henley’s suicide attempt with contemporary tales about failing relationships, using poetry, stand-up comedy, puppetry, and physical theatre for some of the brighter moments.

As we enter the auditorium, a projection of a human heart is prominently displayed in the background of the stage whilst standards are being played to put us in a mellow mood. Yet, the atmosphere radically changes when Sarah Calver enters and resolutely chops a heart into pieces, tossing it into a blender with some fruit for a very special protein shake.

LeCoq trained Calver inhabits the stage from the start with a very physical high energy performance. She swiftly changes between her different characters, giving each one individuality and substance. Yet she also has a great talent for clowning as she outdoes Meg Ryan with the most memorable orgasm I have ever witnessed on stage or screen. Calver’s limericks are laugh-out-loud funny and her drawings have a subtle naiveté.

A skilled solo performer, Sarah Calver has a wonderful rapport with the audience which is more involved in this show than usual. When handed the tickets, we were asked to complete a sentence on a scrap of paper that would then be collected together with our tickets. As we heard our sentences read aloud by two hand-picked members of the audience we felt that we became an integral part of the show.

I Gave Him an Orchid started life as a scratch at Battersea Arts Centre and was then further developed in Berlin to preview at Sophiensäle for 100˚ in February 2014. It was subsequently awarded the 100˚ Jury Prize and performed again at Best of the Fest, the English Theatre of Berlin, Kana Arts Stettin Poland, Faki Festival Croatia, Pulse Festival Ipswich and now the Ovalhouse London before moving on to Edinburgh. Let’s hope this unique one-woman show returns for another London run. 4/5

Review written by Carolin Kopplin

I Gave Him an Orchid will be playing at the Edinburgh Festival, Summer Hall from 5th – 29th August. For more information on the production, visit here… 

Written by Theatrefullstop