REVIEW: Little Orange Man @ Ottawa Fringe 2012

In SNAFU Dance Theatre’s Little Orange Man, Kitt draws the audience into her world and takes them into her dreams to uncover the truth.Should you see it?

Little Orange Man (otherwise known as one of my top theatre experiences ever), performed by Ingrid Hansen and created with director Kathleen Greenfield, is Kitt’s story – or rather Kitt’s experiment. See, Kitt has recruited the “audience” through an ad on Craigslist as volunteers for her dream experiment. What she needs – now that she’s been banned from talking to the Kinders - is really good dreamers to help her get to the bottom of a dream that’s giving her trouble.

Little Orange Man is a storytelling experience. Not the storytelling you see a lot of these days: a performer telling you a real or imagined story, but instead, in the grander storytelling tradition of making the audience part of the journey where not even the character, ostensibly, knows what’s going to happen. Here, Kitt doesn’t simply tell/show the audience the story, but fully engages them as part of her world. It’s theatre in the truest and purest sense of the experience.

Ingrid Hansen gives the most thoroughly engrossing and captivating performance in her portrayal of the young Kitt that I’ve ever seen. There was zero percent of my brain that wasn’t completely present in the world Hansen created and it says a lot that deep into the show, the simple rhetorical: “You know what?” prompts a response from a young boy in the audience who can’t help but ask “What?” Even later, when Kitt asks for a volunteer to wear the dream helmet, I’ve never seen hands raise so quickly and excitedly. Even later, like later in the day later, that same helmet wearer was very excitedly proclaiming that fact when asked what she thought of Little Orange Man. (If you’ve seen the show and are wondering, I was Rachel’s proxy.)

There’s also violent and bloody fairytales told in more charming a way than you’d think possible and the sacrifice of a lot produce in what ultimately is a very touching and dramatic story about a girl and her grandfather.

It’s no surprise that people are making comparisons to local theatre superstar Emily Pearlman/MiCasa Theatre’s work. I used the phrase theatre magic in my reviews of Live from the Belly of a Whale (another of my top theatre experiences) and the same applies here. Little Orange Man is magic, purely, simply.

I was on a high from this show for at least a half hour after it ended (even just writing this…) and I was telling Kurt that I wanted to re-tool the rating system to allow a six - but since I can’t do that, I’ll write an extra-long review and say ultimate five.

Matthew’s Followup:

Ingrid Henson is Kitt, an eccentric sixth grader with a rather eclectic imagination. She is a story-teller, a dreamer, and a little bit crazy, but is one of the most loveable characters to hit the Ottawa Fringe Stage this year. The plot of Little Orange Man is a little too crazy to sound logical or intelligent in any sort of review – and I feel that it’s best to go into a one-person show like Little Orange Man knowing as little as possible, so the content can surprise you from the moment Kitt enters the scene until the very last second.

Little Orange Man is insane… it’s hilarious, it’s wildly creative, and it’s inventive, genuine, heartfelt and an all-around feel good play. The 70 minute run-time is too short for something as good as this. Henson is brilliant onstage and alongside her creative partner Kathleen Greenfield, Ottawa Fringers get to indulge in the special treat that is Little Orange Man. We get to follow Kitt’s stories, her dreams, we get to help her fight slug men, we get to … well, I said I didn’t want to give too much away. But the moment you think you know what’s going to happen next, Henson pulls something completely different out of her box of tricks and has you in stitches the entire time.

Little Orange Man is a special play; one that is so far out of the box that it’s as heart-warming and charming as it is funny. It’s a beautiful homage to dreamers and the dreams they have. I delight for Henson to return to Ottawa Fringe with her sequel so I can continue to dream alongside Kitt and feel as young and free as she does. Five.

- By Matthew Champ

Allan Mackey

About Allan Mackey

Allan Mackey is editor-in-chief of Production Ottawa, which, really, is too fancy a title. He also acts as show producer for Should You See It, making sure you get your answer in just about two minutes every time. He writes stuff and occasionally turns that stuff into movies. Keep being awesome!

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