national Arts Festival Banner

Thursday, September 24, 2015


(Andrew Buckland, Marty Kintu & Nicholas Pauling)

(Review from the Hilton Arts Festival from Keith Millar)

One of the flagship productions at the Hilton Arts Festival this year was the provocative and dark psychological thriller Blue /Orange. This award-winning play by British playwright Joe Penhall first saw the light of day in London in 2000. The version which took to the stage at the impressive Hilton College Theatre (Grindrod Bank Theatre for the festival) comes from Cape Town’s Baxter Theatre.

The play focuses on two doctors working at a British National Health Services Mental Institution They are treating a young black man named Christopher, who has been under observation for suspected Borderline Personality Disorder. The time has now arrived for Christopher to be released from the institution.

However, Bruce, the younger and relatively inexperienced Doctor, who has been supervising Christopher’s treatment is concerned that the problem may be much more serious. Christopher believes that he is the illegitimate son of Ugandan dictator Idi Amin and is also convinced that oranges are blue.

Bruce approaches his superior, the senior consultant Dr Robert Smith, and suggests that Christopher may be a Paranoid Schizophrenic and should be kept for further observation and treatment.

Dr Smith who is a bombastic and highly ambitious man will hear nothing of it. To retain a patient is not part of the National Health Services plan. And the ramifications could have a far-reaching impact on his ambitions.

What follows is an inflammatory power struggle which not only deals with the patient’s mental illness but also controversial issues around his ethnic and social status. By the end of the conflict, it is difficult to decide who of the three characters is mad who is sane.

What marks this production of Blue / Orange as something special is the stellar performances from the cast of three.

Leading the way is an outstanding Andrew Buckland as the self-important Dr. Robert Smith. His portrayal of this bombastic and supercilious character is masterful and commanding.

Marty Kintu as Christopher creates an energetic, disturbed and strangely likable character. In a mesmerising and sustained performance he is the epitome of the street-wise urban youth.

The younger Doctor, Bruce, is played by Nicholas Pauling. He plays a serious and intense character with great sensitivity and composure.

Directed by Clare Stopford, Blue / Orange is an articulate, expressive and darkly humorous play which leaves its audience members questioning their own sanity. – Keith Millar