That Face runs at The Orange Tree until 7 October 2023 (photo: Johan Persson)
UK - First performed to critical acclaim in 2007, That Face is a hard-hitting, explosive play that explores the secret lives of the rich with anarchic humour. It’s now making a revival at the Orange Tree Theatre in a production directed by Josh Seymour and starring Niamh Cusack. It also features a lighting design by Jamie Platt who approached White Light (WL) to supply his lighting equipment.
That Face tells the story of Mia who is on the verge of being expelled from boarding school and returns home to her alcoholic, disinterested mother Martha as well as her increasingly unstable brother Henry. The imminent return of her father Hugh from Hong Kong, who’s promised to sort everything out, serves to push the family beyond its limits.
On his approach to the show, Jamie explains: “I’d worked with director Josh Seymour and designer Eleanor Bull earlier this year on a wonderful production of Suddenly Last Summer in Frankfurt so had a good understanding of their processes and what to expect when I was asked to light That Face. Eleanor’s design put a rotating bed front and centre in the Orange Tree space, and I knew that it would be important for me to be able to focus in light to that bed in any orientation, as well as expanding into the wider space.
“There were also two large floating circles, mirroring the painted circles on the floor, and I wanted to use those to represent the breakdown of the family’s cohesion; something I would ultimately do by placing pixel tape inside, which would decay over the course of the play.”
With the play being performed within the Orange Tree, this marked the first time that Jamie had lit a production ‘in-the-round’. He comments: “Orange Tree is the most wonderful theatre space though I’ve always previously had some form of ‘upstage’ to pack full of PARcan backlight! With this show, it was important for me to give the audience the same experience no matter where they sat, which reinforced my plan to have a central cone of light above the stage as the primary light source.”
Another important aspect of Jamie’s design was the environmental impact both this and the overall production had. He explains: “I was very keen to use a local hire company, to reduce the transportation impact, and I’m so glad that WL, in particular Louise Houlihan, was able to make the hire work for this show; given the theatre and their warehouse are just seven miles apart! I’m also aware of WL’s status as a B Corp and their commitment to sustainability.”
Regarding his actual design, Jamie details: “The primary feature was a Martin MAC Viper Wash DX unit, which was hung centrally. In fact, we never use the pan or tilt during the show - it always points straight down! I was very keen for a fixture that could be super intense and allow me to shutter into the rotating bed in any orientation when desired. The Viper Wash DX was perfect in that regard, with its bright arc source and rotatable internal barn doors. I was also very keen for the optics of a single large glass lens, given the visibility of the rig to the audience.”
He continues: “I am often disappointed with the frosts in moving head fixtures (give me a Rosco 119 internal frost any day) so the super soft diffused edge of the wash light beam was exactly what I was after; for the central bright cone of light to fade off gently at the edges. I also hired 24 birdies to sit on the circle front, which give me a brilliant, uninterrupted low shot that managed to get into the eyes of the cast, while not being too dazzling for the audience sat opposite.”

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