Friday, January 15, 2010

REVIEW: "Blue/Orange"

The FSU/Asolo Conservatory for Actor Training’s production of "Blue/Orange" is an intensely entertaining drama that plays out brilliantly on the Cook Theatre stage.

Taking place in a psychiatric hospital in London, this dark comic drama is the story of two doctors arguing over the treatment of Christopher, a mental health patient. The argument is over whether Chris (Will Little) should be kept longer. Bruce (Dane Dandrige Clark), a new, young doctor, believes Chris should stay while his mentor, Robert (Kenneth Stellingwerf) thinks otherwise.

At the heart of this play — directed by Barbara Redmond — is the power struggle between the young doctor and the more established doctor. A struggle of new ideas versus old ones.

The tension between Bruce and Robert is played out on a variety of fronts — from serious to sarcastic. Audiences shouldn’t be afraid to laugh, as there are several moments in the Joe Penhall dark comedy that will make one smile. Some of those moments involve the doctors analyzing Chris. Little does a good job switching his characters' moods on a dime from hyper to complacent to tense, etc. Though, it would have been nice to see him make his mental illness just a tad bit more edgy in the first act, he pumps it up just right in the second act. He also does well humanizing Chris.

Little's fellow castmates are wonderful to watch in their roles, especially Stellingwerf, who brings the right combination of authority and sarcasm. He is very believable as the polished doctor, just as much as Clark is as the wet-behind-the-ears Bruce.

The plot has several twists in turns as the audience tries to figure out just how serious Chris’s mental illness is and which doctor truly seems to be off his rocker, so to speak. It also puts the race card on the table with the issue of Chris, who is black.

There are several scenes in this play that are performed very well, such as the scene where Chris reveals to Robert who he believes his father is in the first act.

The small three-person cast packs a powerful punch in this production. Though intense, audiences will appreciate the deepness of the script and the actors.

- January Holmes

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