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Blue/Orange is a three-act play, balancing cynical and satirical comedy, as well as incorporating far greater themes of racism and mental health into the main body of the play. Originally written by Joe Penhall to premier in the April of 2000, it returned to the Caccia stage as this year’s Independent Play, expertly directed by Alexander Marks and overseen by Mr Maclennan.

The entirety of the play takes place in one setting with just three actors, and through their aims, arguments and conflict, countless themes of prejudice, stigma and freedom are explored. Bear in mind, this is all over the course of one 24-hour period in a small psychiatric ward within a failing national health service. The stage was at the centre of the Caccia Studio, surrounded on every side by the audience and lit from directly above with bright, clinical light.

The story follows two doctors: one is a consultant named Robert, played by Max Chichester, and the other, named Bruce, is training to become a consultant, played by Harry Cornell. Their arguments and conflicts drive the story, and at the centre of their dispute is a Christopher, a man with severe Borderline Personality Disorder portrayed by Michael Olatunji. The play begins upon the final day of Christopher’s treatment, as he prepares to leave and return to his life, however his doctor Bruce believes the man should be retained for further diagnosis. As Robert tries to justify Christopher’s animated, erratic and delusionary behaviour and convince Bruce to let Christopher go, the two become locked in a struggle that puts their careers at risk, while Christopher becomes more and more conflicted, with undertones of racism and isolation revealed as central to his mental health. With brilliant acting from all three, these vastly contrasting characters bring to life a humorous, sardonic and meaningful production.

Peter Anderson

Photos: Jasper Sodha

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