Thursday, 26 May 2016

FOUR STAR REVIEW Blue Orange at the Young Vic

SIXTEEN years ago Joe Penhall's play Blue Orange was premiered at the National Theatre. It is now being revived at the Young Vic and thanks to the brilliant writing it feels as contemporary and fresh as ever.
It tells the story of Christopher, (Daniel Kaluuya) a young black Londoner who has been diagnosed with borderline personality disorder and confined to a psychiatric ward for a month.
Desperate to get out it is up to the two doctors to battle it out as to whether he is fit enough to re-enter society.
Bruce (Luke Norris) is a conscientious young doctor who feels that Christopher - who still believes oranges are blue - needs to stay in longer so he can be assessed and given the right support and treatment.
However, his senior consultant Robert (David Haig) has other ideas and is determined that Christopher be released as soon as possible. He believes Christopher will be fine back at home in Shepherd’s Bush surrounded by the people who are "just like him", not to mention that it will relieve the taxpayer of financially supporting him in hospital.
It is a brilliantly conceived play in which the issues of race, ethics, mental health, the cash-strapped NHS and politics collide in a brutal way.
And it starts with the audience walking through dark corridors and a clinic's waiting area with a background noise that includes patients shouting and screaming in order to get to the stage.
The stage itself is a square shaped consulting room and it feels claustrophobic and oppressive - no wonder Christopher wants out.
The three actors are excellent with a particularly fine performance from David Haig as Robert who veers effortlessly between patronising, racists, scheming, pompous and bully boy tactics to get what he wants - making sure it's him that comes up smelling of roses at the expense of his idealistic but equally determined junior.
And it's a credit to Daniel Kaluuya that it is never completely clear whether he should really stay in the hospital or be released. A real stunner.

Blue Orange is on at the Young Vic, The Cut, Waterloo, until July 2. Tickets from £10. Visit or call the box office on 020 7922 2922.

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