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.
Arthur Miller’s breakthrough play All My Sons is both a searing family tragedy and an exploration of the moral challenges that Miller believed were inherent in the American Dream. Douglas Rintoul has recently directed a wonderful production of this devastating play at the Queen’s Theatre in Hornchurch.
Caryl Churchill’s play Top Girls was a powerful critique of Thatcherite Britain when it was written in 1982. It’s rightly renowned for its theatrical invention and innovative structure, and remains relevant for its enduring questions about the opportunities, and opportunity costs, for women across the ages. Professor Elaine Aston joins me to survey this modern classic.
It is 1959 and Russ and Bev have sold their 3-bedroom bungalow in the all-white neighbourhood of Clybourne Park in Chicago to a “coloured family”. The sale sparks heated debate between neighbours in Bruce Norris’s Pulitzer Prize winning play Clybourne Park. Oliver Kaderbhai, director of the current revival at the Park Theatre in London, joins me to discuss this provocative and corruscatingly funny 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 …