Episode 037: Blue/Orange by Joe Penhall
Host: Douglas Schatz
Guests: Joe Penhall and James Dacre
The Play Podcast is a podcast dedicated to exploring the greatest new and classic plays. In each episode we choose a single play to talk about in depth with our expert guest. We discuss the play’s origins, its themes, characters, structure and impact. For us the play is the thing.
In Joe Penhall’s explosive and unsettling play Blue/Orange we are asked to observe and judge an extended debate between two psychiatrists who differ on their diagnosis and treatment of a young patient who is apparently experiencing delusions that may be symptomatic of paranoid schizophrenia. The doctors are divided by their ambitions, relative status and racial identity and assumptions, and their discussions escalate into an increasingly bitter and personal power struggle, in which their patient becomes an unfortunate pawn.
Blue/Orange premiered at the National Theatre in 2000, and is now revived in a new production by the Royal & Derngate Northampton, Theatre Royal Bath, and Oxford Playhouse, starring Giles Terera, Michael Balogun and Ralph Davis, and directed by James Dacre. Twenty years on the play is as powerful and topical as ever, addressing the uncertainties and dangers around the diagnosis of mental illness, the latent racial prejudices that can distort our judgements, and the pernicious inflections of hierarchical power in inter-personal relationships.
I’m delighted to be joined in this episode by the playwright Joe Penhall and the director James Dacre.