Review – The Making Of Moo, Orange Tree Theatre

Wednesday 25 November 2009

With the Whingers’ stars so clearly in the ascendant (whatever that means) it seems only natural that the next development in their tale should be the formation of a West End Whingers religion complete with tax-free status and wine (although neither Whinger can get very excited about wafers, to be honest).

So it was that Andrew was packed off to the Orange Tree Theatre on Monday to see the satire on organised religion The Making Of Moo and take careful notes on how to go about building a new religion from scratch.

Why alone? Well, one has to admire the Orange Tree’s courage in admitting that it is “London’s only permanent theatre in the round” but there’s no way they are going to get Phil through their doors with that kind of honesty. Or perhaps it’s deliberate. Who knows? In the event it all turned out for the best as it transpires that the Orange Tree doesn’t permit drinks to be taken into the auditorium and the air would have turned quite blue had Phil been in attendance.

Anyway, Nigel Dennis‘s play was originally produced at the Royal Court in 1957 and boasted Joan Plowright, George Devine and John Osborne among the players. The Orange Tree’s revival understandably can’t drum up a similarly stellar cast list but they attack the slightly creaky play with gusto.

The story concerns British engineer Frederick Compton (Philip York) who in building a dam in an unspecified colony has unwittingly drowned one of the local gods. Fearing the ramifications of leaving a country godless he and his wife (Amanda Royle) conspire to create a new god – Moo – to help restore law and order but it all gets rather out of hand.

It’s a funny old play which viewed 50 years later seems rather lopsided – satirising organised religion while seemingly rather blithe with regard to its colonial setting. If it fails to pack quite the punch it did that must surely be because in a world where Hollywood stars believe that 75 million years ago Xenu brought billions of people to Earth in spacecraft resembling Douglas DC-8 airliners, stacked them around volcanoes and detonated hydrogen bombs in the volcanoes. prompting the thetans to cluster together, stuck to the bodies of the living, Moo seems a rather plausible and benign religion. And the Church of the Whingers doesn’t seem like such a crazy idea either. Watch this space.

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