Orange Flower Water is the best show at Fringe I've seen so far. Even before the play started, you were sucked in from the chaos of L.A. to a warm, quiet ambiance. It was as if the director and producer were fattening us for the kill, since the play was going to hurt. Orange Flower Water provides a brutally honest snapshot of two marriages unraveling in real time. We were welcomed by dim lights and a long staircase lined with flickering candles. We were brought to a bar where I was poured a glass of red wine. And it was good wine. Finally, we settled into plush seats, and as indie rock played in the background, I noticed that the stage had a full-on set. It was a breath of fresh air after the minimalist black boxes at Fringe. Granted, I know that most Fringe shows don't have time to deck out their stage due to quick-turnover productions, but it was a welcome change nonetheless.
This show had so much going for it, it was bound to be a success. The play's Emmy-nominated writer Craig Wright also wrote for the show Six Feet Under, a series that certainly knew its way around dysfunctional marriage. Director Stephnie Feury has much experience under her belt (she's been an acting coach for 17 years), and the cast was phenomenal. None more so than Mick Thyer, whose character goes from lion to lamb in a matter of minutes, as his wife packs her bags to leave him. The transition from cocky bastard to pitiful cuckold is heart-wrenching. This guy is going places.
Leslie Liberman's character surprises the audience with her goodness, giving an almost hopeful spin to the whole thing. Actors Jeff Denton and Sarah Ann Schultz (who struck me as a brunette Gwenyth Paltrow) are also strong actors in their own right. It takes a certain kind of talent to be able to tease laughs out of a dramatic situation, and yet in the midst of a fight, the audience would break into laughter over slights. Perhaps because the subject matter is familiar, but definitely due in part to this top-notch production.