AN eerie feeling greets you when you step foot inside the Southwark Playhouse’s Little theatre for its latest production.
The stage is a jetty which pushes out into the audience who sit around it on three sides. At the back is a frame that comes to represent a house. As the audience takes their seats two girls sit on the jetty, reading and making lanterns, amidst low lighting and the sounds of the sea lapping against the shore with some eerie and haunting music in the background.
Written by Matt Grinter, Orca is set on a remote island on which a relatively small number of people live and for whom fishing is a vital part of their lives and future. However, they are ruled by The Father, a man who has huge influence over their lives. Such is his power and grip on the community, the people are afraid of him but fear him so much that they don’t question him or stand up to him.
Except that is for Maggie, a 16-year-old girl who has made accusations against him. These are not immediately clear but there is a nagging feeling and suggestion throughout about what those accusations are.
The town is getting ready for its annual Midsummer ritual - when a girl is chosen from the island to go out to sea to bless the waters and bring good fortune for the sailors.
Fourteen-year-old Fan is desperate to be chosen but her sister Maggie is desperate that she should not although she won’t explain why.
Their father is angry at Maggie’s insistence her sister should not go and her accusations against The Father which have caused the community to shun them.
That is until another girl from the island is rescued from the sea and then the slow realisation of what has been going on is revealed in all its hideousness.
Orca is Matt’s debut play and it’s a cracker, deservedly winning the Papatango New Writing Prize. Gripping, intense and with an undercurrent of evil, it’s a terrific piece, beautifully told and with moments when the hairs stand up on the back of your neck.
It also benefits from having a top notch cast which includes Carla Langley as Fan and Aiden Gillet as The Father.
Orca is on at the Southwark Playhouse, Newington Causeway until November 26. Tickets cost £20. Visit www.southwarkplayhouse.co.uk or call the box office on 020 7407 0234.