Blue/Orange – review
Young Vic

Published: Tuesday, May 31, 2016 8:30 AM | Review by: Lloyd Lewis-Hayter |
Daniel Kaluuya (Christopher) and Luke Norris (Bruce) in Blue Orange at the Young Vic © Johan Persson Daniel Kaluuya (Christopher) and Luke Norris (Bruce) in Blue Orange at the Young Vic © Johan Persson

Your mind is left spinning with questions, sadness and anger for all those being failed by our ever dwindling system.

First staged in 2000 at The National Theatre, The Young Vic has revived Joe Penhall’s Olivier award-winning play with good reason.


Getting into the crux of the failings of our mental health care for black men especially, Blue/Orange doesn’t hold back in exploring every ugly stage of the money saving and corner cutting game forced upon those who are supposed to care for our most vulnerable.


Daniel Kaluuya (Christopher) in Blue Ora nge at the Young Vic © Johan Persson Daniel Kaluuya (Christopher) in Blue Ora nge at the Young Vic © Johan Persson

Christopher, a young black man living in Shepherd’s Bush has completed his minimum stay of 28 days at a psychiatric ward where he has been diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder. It is time for him to go home, but Bruce, an ardent and devoted junior doctor in his first month of training doesn’t think Christopher is ready to re-join the outside world.


Seeking a more experienced opinion, Bruce calls on his mentor and senior doctor Robert and unknowingly ignites a battle of morals, politics, humanity, institutional racism and ego.



15 years on from the original staging, diminishing NHS budgets unfortunately make Christopher's situation even more prevalent. The state of mental health amongst black people in the UK hasn't improved much either. There have been endless statistics reported that show the shocking disproportion between the black and white mentally ill. It was found in 2015 that black men in Britain are 17 times more likely than white counterparts to be diagnosed with a psychotic illness.


Director Matthew Xia (read interview), artistic director at Manchester’s Royal Exchange and founding member of Act For Change does a fantastic job in keeping the balance of power continually passing back and forth between the characters.

Blue/Orange doesn’t hold back in exploring every ugly stage of the money saving and corner cutting game forced upon those who are supposed to care for our most vulnerable


Originally cast with Andrew Lincoln, Bill Nighy and Chiwetel Ejiofor, Blue/Orange returns with a just as impressive cast. Luke Norris of BBC’s Poldark plays young enthusiastic Bruce, MBE and Olivier awarded David Haig is the arrogant consultant, and Daniel Kaluuya who broke through with his role in Skins portrays Christopher.


All three give mesmerizing and intense performances which keep you enthralled but exhausted by the end, as your mind is left spinning with questions, sadness and anger for all those being failed by our ever dwindling system.


Luke Norris (Bruce), David Haig  (Robert) and Daniel Kaluuya (Christopher) in Blue Orange at the Young Vic © Johan Persson Luke Norris (Bruce), David Haig (Robert) and Daniel Kaluuya (Christopher) in Blue Orange at the Young Vic © Johan Persson




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