POWERFUL, darkly comic and thought provoking, with gripping performances from a talented cast, Blue Orange packed in everything I like to see in a play.
This was the second offering from newly formed Theatre Royal Brighton Productions and long may it continue.
Robert Bathurst (Downton Abbey) plays the cynical and ambitious senior consultant psychiatrist, Robert, who argues that Christopher (Oliver Wilson,) a patient with borderline personality disorder, should be released back into the community, in no small part because it will save money.
However principled junior psychiatrist Bruce (Gerard McCarthy, who played Chris Fisher in Hollyoaks) thinks Christopher is suffering from schizophrenia and believes he should be kept in hospital.
The play centres around the two doctors’ disagreements about what is best for the patient, but also worryingly, about what is best for their careers.
In fact the political manouevring between the two doctors gets so bad that Christopher tells them they are driving him round the bend.
The play raises questions about how mental illnesses are diagnosed and how best to treat them, as well as delving into the reasons why African descended British people are at a much higher risk of developing schizophrenia.
The dialogue is natural and fast, while the balance between drama and comedy is perfect.
Oliver Wilson is spell binding as the troubled Christopher who has been sectioned for 28 days after police spot him doing something ‘funny’ with some fruit in a market.
He manages to move between portraying his character as normal and perceptive, and agitated and paranoid with graceful ease.
This is a must see. One of the best plays I have ever seen.
Blue Orange has won an Olivier Award, a Critics’ Circle Award and the Evening Standard Award for Best Play.
Theatre Royal Brighton Productions is a partnership between Ambassador Theatre Group and Theatre Royal Brighton and was launched in 2011 under the artistic direction of Christopher Luscombe, with Maria Aitken and Philip Franks as inaugural associates.
Each production will open at Theatre Royal Brighton, before going on a nationwide tour, followed by a West End transfer.