Based on a real-life event from an Amnesty International report, Sally Woodcock's debut full-length play Fanta Orange takes place in modern-day Kenya, where 45-year-old white farm owner Roger (Jay Villiers) is having a relationship with his teenage, HIV-positive, black housegirl Regina (Kehinde Fadipe, who's just joined Misfits as the female Curtis - Furtis?) So it's a nasty surprise for her when he comes home with Ronnie (Jessica Ellerby,) a white English woman he's just met, and announces they're getting married. On top of this, Roger has got both women pregnant, and has asked Regina to pretend she doesn't speak English, so as not to communicate with Ronnie. With children starving nearby, milk becomes an obsession for Ronnie (the title comes from what the local AIDS orphans are being given instead of milk.) The performances are strong in Gareth Machin's production and Neill Brinkworth's lighting helps suggest the African backdrop but the twisted family that builds up had trouble keeping my interest. The character of Ronnie was the biggest problem for me: From researcher with a PHD, to trustafarian with a seemingly endless cash supply, to patronising Westerner with Colonial Guilt, to shallow wannabe Angelina Jolie trying to pick an African baby to buy, she is whatever the story wants her to be at any given moment. Ellerby does her best to try and turn the disparate elements into an actual character but it's a bit too much to ask.
Fanta Orange by Sally Woodcock is booking until the 26th of November at the Finborough Theatre.