I Gave Him An Orchid

theatre review | Read in About 2 minutes
Published 09 Aug 2015

Heart smoothie, anyone? Sarah Calver slices through a heart and loads it into a blender, adding banana and fruit juice for taste. She fires it into life, shredding this muscle to such tiny pieces that it becomes drinkable, then pours herself a glass.

That she never drinks it—there is, I think, a bit of a switcheroo—says a lot about I Gave Him an Orchid. It’s an exploration of heartache that refuses to go anywhere too painful, preferring to goof and clown around the subject, than to really open up about it. The upshot is that we learn little – and feel even less.

Calver returns to the story of a Bristolian woman, Sarah Henley, who, in 1885, threw herself off a suspension bridge after a break up – only for her crinoline skirt to balloon like a parachute, breaking her fall and saving her life. She went on to marry someone else, proof that hearts heal just like bruises and broken ribs do.

It’s unfocused and tangential; a word cloud or spider diagram of a show. Sex recurs, almost as if heartbreak starts out in the loins. A slide show of self-aware snogs catches the oddity of dating again and an impromptu onstage hook-up, matchmade in the moment, is sweet for its simplicity – until Calver pops up to puncture the mood. It’s never a good sign, when you wish the artist would get out of the way though, is it?