Blue/Orange – Footnotes
The Footnotes to our episode on Blue/Orange include some further thoughts on the significance of the slightly awkward back slash in the title of the play.
We talked during the podcast about the significance of the title, particularly of the superficially awkward back slash. The back slash implies something that is both blue and/or orange simultaneously, which of course the oranges are perceived as in the play. Likewise, the labelling of Christopher’s condition is ambiguous. At its simplest, the identity of an orange is defined by the colour of its skin, as Christopher is called black because of the colour of his skin. The analogy is signalled more explicitly when Robert refers in his report to the “blue-skinned orange” as being in the “minority given that other citruses are ordinarily orange”.
The semantics of our labelling people and medical diagnoses is cleverly conveyed in the artwork for the title of the play used for the recent production we discussed in the episode. The design shows a single capsule of medication, one half of which is orange and the other blue, but the words Blue and Orange are fixed to the reverse colours, so we experience that mind trick of not noticing that the orange half of the pill is actually labelled blue and vice versa. It reinforces the doubt that we should be acknowledging in the difficulty about labelling people and particularly of course in labelling mental health conditions.
G.B. Shaw’s Arms and the Man is both a sparkling romantic comedy and a telling satire of love, war and social pretension. It was Shaw’s first public success as a playwright when it premiered in London in 1894, and is currently enjoying an acclaimed revival at the Orange Tree theatre in Richmond, Surrey.
I’m joined by Shaw expert Ivan Wise, who is a previous editor of The Shavian, the journal of the Shaw Society.
C.P. Taylor’s powerful, cautionary play Good charts how an ostensibly ‘good’ person can become not just complicit to evil behaviour, but an active participant. Professor John Halder’s creeping moral compromise as he joins the Nazi elite in 1930’s Germany is a disturbing reminder of the dangers of populist political crusades.
The play is currently being revived at the Harold Pinter theatre in London with David Tennant in the role of John Halder, and I’m delighted to be joined by the production’s director, Dominic Cooke, to explore the contemporary resonances of this provocative play.
Frank Wedekind’s dark, expressionist play Spring Awakening is a cautionary portrait of adolescent angst and rebellion against oppressive social strictures and family pressures. Its frank depiction of sex and violence remains shocking more than 130 years after it was written, and it is the unlikely source of the award-winning modern musical of the same name.
I’m delighted to be joined by Professor Karen Leeder to explore the contemporary controversies and enduring relevance of this extraordinary play.
Before the theatres went dark this month I was lucky enough to see Caryl Churchill’s A Number at the Bridge, and spend more than seven hours in thrall to Robert Lepage’s Seven Streams of the River Ota at the National. Plus, some thoughts on what we miss when there is no theatre.
Another great mix of shows this month, from Tom Stoppard’s new play, to Ibsen, Beckett and newer plays in smaller London venues.
The January roundup included both classic plays, such as The Duchess of Malfi, Uncle Vanya and Three Sisters, as well as recent musicals Dear Evan Hansen and Girl from the North Country …