The difficulties with diagnosing

Theatre Kingston’s production of Joe Penhall’s Blue/Orange brought a variety of British accents and comedy

In Blue/Orange, based on the script by British writer Joe Penhall, two doctors in a psychiatric hospital argue over the best treatment for a patient that might have schizophrenia.
In Blue/Orange, based on the script by British writer Joe Penhall, two doctors in a psychiatric hospital argue over the best treatment for a patient that might have schizophrenia.
Photo: 
Ayinde Blake plays Christopher, a patient who is believed to have schizophrenia due to his hallucination that the oranges on the table are blue, not orange.
Ayinde Blake plays Christopher, a patient who is believed to have schizophrenia due to his hallucination that the oranges on the table are blue, not orange.
Photo: 

Biblical verses aren’t always at the top of the list for curse words. Yet, it was such oddities that made Blue/Orange make sense.

The setting of the play, written by Joe Penhall, is a psychiatric hospital where two doctors argue over the best treatment for a patient who might be schizophrenic.

These three characters are the only actors in the minimalist show, as the entire plot takes place in one hospital room.

William Matthews plays the young Dr. Bruce, a man confused by his desire to move up in his job and the emotional conflict about how to do it.

Nigel Bennett playing Dr. Robert was both terrifying and intriguing. I could never tell where his intentions lay as he argued that the patient’s problems came from being part of the black community.

It was interesting to see the power dynamics unfold in the play as both doctors realize furthering their own careers trumps the correct treatment of their patient.

But the patient was no doorknob to the revolving door of power dynamics played out between the two doctors.

Ayinde Blake as Christopher, the patient, was my favourite character. His Cockney British accent was wickedly believable and his use of British slang made me question whether the accent was real or not, as silly as that may sound.

All three members of the cast made the play’s script come to life and with them the themes of race in the study of mental illness.

Christopher’s schizophrenia was diagnosed when he declared that an orange on the table in front of him was blue, making Dr. Bruce believe he was mentally ill, while his superior Dr. Robert disagreed.

By the end of the struggle between the three, I wasn’t sure what colour the orange was, though I could smell the citrus fruit from my seat.

Oddly, what stood out to me as I was watching Blue/Orange were the smells. They helped to push me that extra inch into feeling completely engaged with the show happening in front of me.

The fresh wood scent of the hospital set’s walls and the smell of the cigarettes the characters lit up helped to involve me in the action happening on stage. It was these small details that made Blue/Orange a multi-dimensional production.

Theatre Kingston presents Blue/Orange in the Baby Grand Theatre until Feb. 16. See kingstongrand.ca for tickets.

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