Locusts Review

Orange Works Theatre Company shine a light in the eyes of conversion therapy in their gripping new play.

Locusts Review

Brighton Fringe guarantees no shortage of stand up and solo shows, but it’s really refreshing to see a good play. And that’s what Orange Works provide with Locusts.

Written by Garth McLean and Ian Tucker-Bell, and inspired by Tucker-Bell’s own experiences, Locusts focus is on conversion therapy abuse. Running parallel are themes of love, loss and toxic relationships with those we should be able to trust.

Captivating from the start, the fifty minutes slip by. There is a big plot to get through in this short time, and it is impressively does not feel at all rushed. Ian Tucker-Bell and Pierse Stevens are just right as Stephen and Jeff. Their naturalistic relationship dialogue is spot on, cemented early with staff room chat retellings; “which one’s she again?”. The partnership is brilliantly written, with moments of tenderness in-dispersed with occasional storminess, the way you only can with someone you really love.

Grounding moments of laughter are mostly provided by Cathy Treble’s Sian; a well considered character vehicle to support Stephen’s storytelling, and an excellently written one in her own right. In Pete, Nick Blessley manages to portray what Stephen recalls; someone innately approachable and seemingly kind, welcoming us at the shows open with a symbolic service.

The Lantern Theatre @ ACT is a great space, oozing happy community vibes and hosted by welcoming, friendly staff. The performance space is simple and well thought out, and is made excellent use of by Orange Works. Phil Holden’s direction is creative and considered, making minimalist use of a few stage blocks so avoiding clunky set changes. Movements progressively become more stylised, with those not in scene at points sitting on stage and watching the performance, allowing scenes to merge seamlessly and limiting time spent on entrances and exits.

Moments of monologue throughout draw the audience in through the choice to really engage with the audience, and flexibly play off responses. The acoustics and seating of the small theatre set up lean themselves to an immersive audience response; an emotional sigh, the wiping of eyes.

Orange Works shines a spotlight on conversion therapy, reminding us at the play’s close that this atrocious practice is still not illegal. We’re invited to a post-show chat over a G&T if we need to talk. Poignant yet understated, activist yet elegant, Locusts is a triumph.


Kerry Williams

Kerry Williams Local Reporter

Kerry Williams is a Sussex based writer and wildlife conservationist with a background in performing. She spends most of her free time birdwatching, laughing, and losing pub quizzes.

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