Friday, February 18, 2005

I Am Curious Blue Orange

There's a play on at the Sheffield Crucible about race, mental health and the National Health Service.
[It's] a new production of Joe Penhall’s acclaimed play.
In a London psychiatric hospital, Christopher claims he’s the son of the late Ugandan dictator, Idi Amin and that oranges are blue. This baffling young man becomes a human punchbag in the battle between two psychiatrists. Set against the backdrop of a crumbling National Health Service, Joe Penhall’s edgy comedy examines the unspoken politics of institutions, challenges assumptions about ‘normality’ and questions whether ‘sanity’ is dependent on the colour of your skin.
This is a must go see. Especially because the director is the splendid Kathy Burke.
Tossing into conversation expletives with the same ease and wanton abandon that Jamie Oliver uses olive oil, Kathy Burke says she is loving the experience of directing the highly regarded three-hander Blue/Orange, in its first revival since it set the stage alight down at the National.
The general consensus is that Burke is a good sort. Roger Lloyd Pack, one of the cast members of Blue/Orange, loves working with her. The people who work at Sheffield Theatre think that she's wonderful.
It is perhaps the complete lack of pretentiousness that Burke carries around that makes one warm to her.
When asked about her directorial style – which has already been described by Lloyd Pack as very sympathetic towards her actors – she tells you that she understands what it is like to work with bad directors, something which she strives not to be, because "I used to be an actor", as if you might not be aware of her previous work. Plenty of actors would take great and immediate offence if you were unable to list every role they have ever performed, but not Burke.
Now, about the play:
Blue/Orange tells the story of a young man, Christopher, who claims to be the son of an exiled African dictator.
He also believes that oranges are blue, hence the title of the play. Two doctors, played by Roger Lloyd Pack and Shaun Evans, clash over their ideas of how the young man should be treated.
"Really, the play is all about status and power. I've worked with lots of people who are power trippy and this play is all about that," says Burke.
"I'm really interested in human nature, how we communicate and how we don't communicate."
Burke, seemingly realising that she is drifting into intellectual territory changes tack, reverts to type and adds: "It's about psychology and the brain and the sort of thing that can mess it up."

Doesn't that description make you want to go see the play?

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