Review: ‘Oranges are not the only fruit’ focuses too much on horticulture

Mariella Buss-Stop

Mariella Buss-Stop

Mariella Buss-Stop reviews the Harold Player’s latest theatre production.

The latest production by the Harold players left an unpleasant taste in my mouth, and not just because I’m citrus intolerant.

Expecting a plodding yet faithful interpretation of Jeanette Winterson’s lesbian coming-of-age classic, I wasn’t prepared for quite such a long-winded and frankly angry diatribe on the taxonomy of vegetables.

The lead actress, made a good fist of being a lesbian, although it could be argued the dungarees were something of a tired stereotype. Smeared in mud (perhaps a metaphor for foul Pentecostal intolerance) and carrying a pig under her arm, the show opens with her silently getting her lettuce out.

With her frisee endive firmly ensconced in the vegetable camp, you could feel the audience relax a little. After all, we all know where we stand when we’re staring into a lollo rosso. It’s perfectly natural, if a little on the showy side. Hers was crisp and perky, a real treat for anyone with a latent appetite for legumes. This was the kind of performance that’s definitely suitable for vegetarians.

But then a cucumber was produced with the word ‘FRUIT’ emblazoned on its flank. You could hear a murmur of confusion, tension grew. ‘Is she…what the…are my prejudices being confronted?’ wondered the uneasy crowd. Giddy with excitement, my mind raced with possibilities.

Passionately imploring the audience to accept the gourd for being ‘as much a fruit as any orange’ had me flushed with joy. Call me a haughty culturalist but I’ve long been in the camp that considers the association between women and salad to be symbolic of male oppression. Ranting now, wild-eyed and lost in the moment, we sat in awe as she intimidated the front row with a marrow.

“It’s all got seeds in, like a apple”, she delivered with gusto and saliva. “That means it’s a fruit that does, and you ain’t ever going to change it”. I’d been warned that I might find the performance uncomfortable, but I wasn’t expecting to actually be punched in the tits by a militant organic thespian. In hindsight it was wrong of me to heckle her with a pack of seedless grapes.

In summary, an inspirational but sometimes violent testimony that there are other fruits aside from oranges available. But the insistence that bananas are a herb might be too much for some traditionalists to take.

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