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Blue/Orange (Tour - Manchester)

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
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Theatre Royal Brighton Productions have set out to celebrate British Drama and so have brought Joe Penhall's play from 2000 back to the stage.

Blue/Orange is set in a mental hospital where Christopher has been detained on a Section 2 after being arrested. Twenty eight days later he is due for release but his psychiatrist Bruce is not sure he is ready to go back to his 'normal life'.

Diagnosed as Borderline Personality Disorder, Bruce feels that there is more to Christopher's illness, suspecting that he is, in fact, schizophrenic. Unfortuna5tely for Bruce his suspicions are not backed up by his supervisor and mentor Dr Robert Smith who is more keen to clear a bed and return Christopher to the community than to query the BPD diagnosis. But as the play progresses you find that his motives are even less pure than originally thought.

The cast are all excellent. Oliver Wilson as Christopher swings between the calm side of himself and the paranoid delusions which are such a common part of schizophrenia. Gerard McCarthy as young psychiatrist Bruce shows all the idealism of one not yet worn down by the system but also stunning when he realises just how badly he has been screwed over by his superiors. Robert Bathurst as his senior consultant is smooth and supercilious and totally believable.

Director Christopher Luscome keeps the plot tightly controlled but allows the emotion to dominate which in such a closed environment is ideal

If Blue/Orange is an intelligent and well written play, but if it has a fault it might be that it leaves some of the audience wondering just what it was all about!

- Helen Jones


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