Penhall’s Blue / Orange revived by Birmingham REP

Published: 27 January 2019
Reporter: Steve Orme

A new production of Joe Penhall’s Blue / Orange is to open at Birmingham REP, with director Daniel Bailey aiming to draw out the contemporary relevance of the play’s themes.

Bailey, an associate director at the REP, said, “Joe Penhall’s exquisitely sharp state-of-the-nation classic is a searing dissection of institutional racism and mental health in modern Britain. It’s a fantastic, funny, fierce play and I can’t wait to share it with audiences in Birmingham.”

Blue / Orange, which had its première in 2000, tells the story of Christopher who is sectioned and admitted to a psychiatric hospital. As his doctor and senior consultant debate the cause of his psychosis, he makes the startling revelation that he’s the son of Ugandan dictator Idi Amin.

The two specialists are divided in their diagnosis and fiercely defend their opposing positions. Their power struggle escalates into an exchange over racism, ideology, prejudice and egotism. With each new revelation, all three find their layers are peeled back to reveal increasingly uncomfortable truths within themselves.

Richard Lintern plays senior consultant Robert. He took the role of Roland in Jumpy by April de Angelis at the Royal Court in 2012 and appeared in Thomas Middleton’s Women Beware Women at the National Theatre in 2010.

Thomas Coombes returns to the REP to play junior consultant Bruce. He last appeared as Oswald in King Lear in 2016. Ivan Oyik, a graduate of Guildford School of Acting, makes his professional stage debut as Christopher.

Bailey, a previous winner of the Regional Theatre Young Director Scheme and a former director in residence at the National Theatre Studio, directs his first main house production for the REP. Designer is Amelia Jane Hankin with lighting design by Azusa Ono, sound design by Clive Meldrum and movement by Lanre Malaolu.

Blue / Orange runs at Birmingham REP from Friday 1 until Saturday 16 February (press night Tuesday 5 February).