Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Seattle

Blue/Orange at Intiman Theatre

In the great tradition of plays and movies like One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest, The Snake Pit, and Girl Interrupted which are set in and around mental institutions, playwright Joe Penhall's Blue/Orange is a stand-out drama. And happily, the Seattle premiere production at Intiman theatre is, in large part, an exhilarating theatrical experience.

Directed with playfulness and power by Kate Whoriskey (in her best Intiman directorial stint yet), Blue/Orange depicts the dilemma of Christopher, an involuntarily hospitalized young black man whose release from a mental institution becomes the subject of passionate debate between his outspoken young psychiatrist Bruce and his manipulative mentor Robert. The title of the play comes from Christopher's assertion that the inside of an orange is blue, one of several delusional quirks that landed him in the psych unit to begin with. Oh, and he also think's he's the son of Idi Amin.

Laurence Ballard, Ian Brennan and Sylvester Foday Kamara
Laurence Ballard gives another resoundingly robust and multi-layered performance as the wily Robert, making him alternately engaging and annoying. It's easy to see why so many Seattle theatres employ this versatile man of the theatre. As Christopher, Sylvester Foday Kumara is electrifying, sympathetic and utterly real. A tendency toward sloppy diction in act one vanished after intermission, and it was a pleasure to watch this gifted young actor, a Northweset Actors Studio grad, hold his own with veteran actor Ballard. Regretfully, this talented pair is not matched by Ian Brennan as psychiatrist Bruce. Brennan displays an almost manic energy from the start and then goes higher from there, diminishing our ability to see (let alone take) his side as Bruce lobbies to keep Christopher under observation and threatens his own career in the process.

Matthew Smucker's abstract, surrealist set design captures the quirkiness of the text admirably, as does Scott Sielinski's harshly clinical lighting.

Blue/Orange runs at Intiman Theatre at 201 Mercer St in Seattle Center through August 24. For further information visit their website at

Photo: Chris Bennion

- David-Edward Hughes

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