Orion Hits you like a Belt Buckle!

3 Mar

There is no logic when it comes to matters of the heart. All that ensues is a lot of heart-ache and unanswered questions. Matthew McLachlan’s new work, Orion, dives deep into this subject. This emotionally-charged work leaves us in a state of loss and despair.

What happens when Sam and Gwen break up after three years? Although, Gwen initiated the break, she still loves Sam but “feels” that she is doing the right thing. This leaves poor Sam in a perpetual state of confusion and desperation. Trying to help him through the ordeal is Scott, his best friend. Much of the play centers around the intense loss that Sam feels and the struggles he faces while trying to move on. When Gwen suddenly gets a new boyfriend, the knife in Sam’s heart is twisted even further.

So how does one move on and put the past in its place? Is there a set amount of time one should mourn the loss of a relationship? Blake Merriman (Sam) does a phenomenal job exploring the nuances of broken-heartedness and we are with him every step of the way. Amanda Jones does nice work playing Gwen. It is hard not to hate her and make her the villain, but Jones’ sincerity saves her. Scott Brieden is the ideal best friend as Scott. His loyalty and connectedness to Merriman is palpable. Rounding out the cast is Simone Serra, playing Abby Scott’s girlfriend. Serra is great in her role and delivers a strong performance.

Each character gets a turn to speak and confide in the audience. This device, although well-written monologues, gets predictable. On a personal note, I prefer plays that do not try to wrap everything up in a nice little box. This play does an outstanding job discussing the “grey” areas of relationships. I wish it did not try to make it all come together, but left us to grapple with the illogical nature of love. The numerous scene locales disrupt the flow a bit and detract from the continuity.

Overall, McLachlan’s play has a lot going for it. The subject matter is timeless and characters are relatable. This tears at the heart, as most people have been there. Despite the various scene shifts, this play grabs a hold of you and does not let go until it’s over. It’s an emotional roller-coaster in the best way possible!

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