Blue/Orange by Joe Penhall – 10th Anniversary Production at Arcola Theatre London – Review

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I read Blue/Orange earlier this year, and immediately loved it, so much so I wrote a blog post about it here. Shortly after I found out the Arcola theatre were putting on a production for its 10th Anniversary and so booked my tickets way back at the beginning of August.

The original play was written for three male characters. This production has changed that to being three women. These were ably played by Ayesha Antoine, Esther Hall and Helen Schlesinger. I felt changing the sex of the characters worked really well and certainly gave a certain “bitchiness” between the two Drs that I don’t think was there in the original.

The subject matter is one that the play itself acknowledges is not talked about much, yet schizophrenia is an issue that affects a great number of people, not just the individuals but also their families and communities. Ayesha Antoine gave a convincing portrayal as the schizophrenic Juliet. The arguments between the Dr and Consultant are as pertinent than ever, there’s no bed for Juliet at the hospital so she should be discharged as she’s “only borderline”. Dr Emily’s pleas that she needs to be properly diagnosed and supported are dismissed by the politically and personally driven Consultant Hilary.

I mentioned in my previous post about Blue/Orange that the dialogue and scripting is brilliant and seeing it performed simply confirmed that. There is also a huge amount of humour that came out beautifully.

The set design is superb, it’s performed in the round, yet we peer through large windows into the consulting room where all the action takes place. A clever use of lighting and sound add to the production and accentuate key parts subtlety.

The Arcola itself is a lovely studio theatre with a cosy cafe area for pre and interval drinks which was nice, it also has an array of kebab shops for a post show nibble, that I refrained from, but Kevin and Vanessa who I went with partook of, and said was very nice!

The Arcola will be closing temporarily at the end of the year, before it moves to an exciting new property just up the road. More details and how to donate to it are here. It’s an inspiring project and I wish them all the best as the theatre goes into its second decade.

There is an abundance of quality plays on at the moment which is a fabulous situation for us to be in, this is definitely worth putting to the top of your list and making the effort to go to.


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