Orphan Black

orphan black

By Naomi Berwin

Posted on May 20, 2014 in Television with tags Orphan Black, Tatiana Maslany, Television

Until a few weeks ago, I had never even heard of Orphan Black. Then, on a trip to New York, I spotted ads all over the subway and found myself intrigued… On my return to the UK, suddenly mentions of the show seemed to be all over my Twitter feed. So I decided it was time to check to it out.

And now it’s a fortnight later and I have watched every episode out so far, and am dying waiting for the next one. ORPHAN BLACK IS SO FREAKING GOOD!

The concept: clones. Not earth-shattering in itself, but done incredibly well, and with a brilliant ‘in’. Our protagonist Sarah – a street-smart con artist – makes eye-contact with a woman on the subway platform, registers that she looks exactly like her, then watches her jump in front of a train. Seeing that the woman has left her bag behind, she makes a spur-of-the-moment decision to take over her identity (that of Detective Beth Childs). She soon realises, however, that along with Beth’s house and money she’s inherited a whole lot of trouble… and some new acquaintances that look an awful lot like both her and Beth.

Which brings me to the thing that takes Orphan Black from good to great – the central performance from Tatiana Maslany, who plays not only Sarah/Beth…

but also uptight suburban housewife Alison…

…eccentric scientist Cosima…

…’proclone’ Rachel…

…and psychotic Helena (one of the freakiest characters I’ve come across in a long time)…

…among others!

Not only does Maslany switch effortlessly between various accents, but she completely inhabits the different characters, taking on their subtle mannerisms to such a degree that you absolutely forget they are all played by the same person. Cosima talks with her hands, Alison is stiff with her arms rarely moving, Helena’s movements are ragged and child-like. Just a brilliant, brilliant performance.

So, if we are not blessed with good weather this Bank Holiday weekend, I can heartily recommend a binge-watch of the first series and a half of Orphan Black. It’s seriously good stuff.

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