The biblical cry of "Physician, heal thyself!" is surely the molten lava bubbling under the surface wit and brilliance of Joe Penhall's Blue/Orange. This new staging is by Gailie Pollock and it's the second production in Contexture's inaugural season at the Rhodes Arts Complex, Bishop's Stortford.
At first, our sympathies are all with the eager young psychiatrist as he assesses a young black man who has been sectioned. Chris (Itoya Osagiede) is all of a twitch as he plays mental games with Bruce (Edward Grace), who has diagnosed him as needing further treatment in the hospital to which he is now confined.
Then senior consultant Robert (Richard Gibson), who is Bruce's mentor and the man who can forward or break his future career, proposes a different diagnosis and wants to let Chris leave (of course, with all the right prescriptions for medication – if not with any assurance that Chris will make use of them) for his dismal flat on a sink estate.
Allegations of racism, of budgetary constraints, threats and delusions cloud over the men's exchanges; who – or what – can we believe? Can we even trust our own reactions? The dialogue is acid sharp and catches the audience in its complex weaving of many themes, few of which are comfortable ones.
The three actors are excellent in their roles. Grace takes you into Bruce's conflict between doing what he thinks is right and what is expedient. Osagiede is a young actor worth watching, giving a finely detailed performance. Gibson has the right assurance for the man who has all-but reached the top of his professional tree and has no intention of letting anyone or anything shake him down from there.