Blue Orange -Michael Balogun, Giles Terera and Ralph Davis photo by Marc Brenner

Award-winning, controversial, hard-hitting – just three of the adjectives which enticed me to Oxford Playhouse last night to see Blue Orange which runs until Saturday.

Set in a psychiatric ward in London, two senior medics argue about a patient’s future, yet what appears at first to be an examination of the deficiencies in today’s mental health service, soon develops into so much more.

Race, power, nepotism, science, politics, bigotism, snowflake culture, class… no stone is left unturned in Joe Penhall‘s ruthless evaluation of the current system and its intractable grey areas.

Blue Orange –Ralph Davis, Michael Balogun and Giles Terera. Photo by Marc Brenner

With a cast of just three, our preconceptions are not only swept aside but minutely dissected, as every avenue of our political and social standpoint deconstructed.

Blue Orange is as much about humanity and our own societal failings, as the impasse and gaping holes created by dictat and policy.

All of which is relayed with electric intensity by the three actors chosen to convert Penhall’s original play into something that acutely resonates nearly 20 years later.

It’s authenticity, relevance and passion keeping you riveted throughout, despite the complex script and often convoluted medical terminology.

Blue Orange -Ralph Davis and Michael Balogun. Photo by Marc Brenner

Michael Balogun‘s simmering violence as menacing patient Christopher, renders him unpredictable, threatening and difficult to control. But should he be released back into society as per government guidelines or has he been wrongly diagnosed?

Bruce, played by Ralph Davis, is a junior doctor trying to make a difference by challenging the system. But is he just naive and wet behind the ears or a vessel for real change?

His seemingly affable senior consultant, played so effectively by Giles Terera (of Hamilton fame), is an old hand at this sort of thing and initially gentle and patient, if patronising. He insists that Christopher leaves immediately. They don’t have enough beds and the patient’s diagnosis is not extreme enough to detain him, but what are his real motives?

Blue Orange – Giles Terera. Photo by Marc Brenner

Throw the potent combination of power, fear, and personal objectives into the equation and the pace really takes off in the second half, making us question everything already ascertained. Robert, for example, is writing a book about black psychosis which could change everything, so is he using Christopher for his own means or is he genuinely impartial?

Is Bruce able to challenge such a inflexible structure as the mental health service or will he be destroyed in the process? Is he discriminatory, racist or just a victim of a woke society, and is Christopher as innocent as he looks, as he becomes the pawn in this power play.

Blue Orange -Ralph Davis and Michael Balogun. Photo by Marc Brenner

You’ll have to find out for yourself, by booking to see this brave and enticing collaboration between Oxford PlayhouseRoyal & Derngate Northampton and Theatre Royal Bath.

Blue Orange is an uncomfortable ride and not for the faint-hearted, but the acting alone is worth the ticket price, and the questions raised will stay with you long after the curtain goes down.

Blue Orange is on until Saturday November 20 at Oxford Playhouse. Book at