The words “You tell me who I am. Who I’m not. I don’t know who I am anymore” reverberate around the Young Vic. We’re in the frantic third and final act of BLUE/ORANGE. Looking upon the consultation room that is our stage, we are the ones in the position of power. The largely white audience is noteworthy for the simple fact that both within and out of the action, being white (myself included) is the privileged position. This connection, even though unintentional gave the events unfolding in front of us continuing depth throughout its two and a half hour running time.
For 28 days, Christopher (Daniel Kaluuya) has been confined to a psychiatric ward under the care of junior doctor Bruce Flaherty (Luke Norris). Although Christopher is due to be released, Dr Flaherty has reservations that prompts him to ask his superior, Dr Robert Smith (David Haig) for Christopher’s stay to be extended. Ethical and morale ambiguity leads us through conversations that threaten to derail the career of the young doctor and the life of a patient.
As both doctors speak privately, Christopher paces the lower platform as if he’s trapped in a bullpen. The physicality of Daniel Kaluuya’s performance is extraordinary, consistently pacing and looking for angles similar to a boxer, looking for his last punch. As strong as it is chaotic.
The issues of race, identity, mental health all come from a real place and you’ll often hear the uncomfortable chuckles from the audience due to them being shown instances that aren’t so much attempts at comedy, rather aspects of truth that seem to be surreal in nature.
Along with Kaluuya’s performance, David Haig and Luke Norris are staggering in their roles. Haig’s portrayal of Robert is to be believed only when seen. All the tricks of the trade are pulled out in order to convince both doctor and patient that he is free to go. Using French poetry even Tin Tin to reinforce his stance. When all else fails resorting to flat out telling Christopher that his worries and fears towards leaving and returning to the community are simply wrong. Captivating in his delivery, Luke Norris is a man trying to build a life around helping people. Although, later he is the very one who needs the help. We watch Norris go through the ringer in more than one occasion.
BLUE/ORANGE shows the system vs humanity in its complex and fully fledged form. Matthew Xia’s revisiting of Joe Penhall is as relevant now as it was when first performed in 2000. Though provoking at the highest level, we ask ourselves, who am I and how do I treat others.
May 12th – Saturday 2nd July
Monday – Saturday 7:30pm (except 30th May)
Wednesday & Saturday 2:30pm
£35, £29, £20, £10 – Concessions available
020 7922 2922