Lord of the Rings actor Richard Edge joins VCA graduate and MTC actor Kane Felsinger, and TV's Flat Whites actor Christian Heath in Joe Penhall's multi award winning hit comedy/drama Blue/Orange presented by highly lauded Melbourne based company Mockingbird Theatre.
The two major issues raised in Blue/Orange are race and madness. Two psychiatrists—one new and inexperienced, the other his well-established mentor—battle over the diagnosis and treatment of a young black man who claims to be the son of African dictator Idi Amin.
This play discusses not only how vulnerability can open the door to forcible submission but also debates the moral question pertaining to behaviour and acceptable punishment once that line drawn in the sand has been over stepped.
Kane Felsinger (fresh from a season with Bell Shakespeare performing as Benvolio in Romeo and Juliet for the Melbourne Festival at Hammer Hall) plays the volatile schizophrenic patient Christopher. Felsinger divulges that the role (which, he admits, was one of those exciting things that just dropped into his lap) has given him an insight into a mind and a world that he never understood and, like many in our society, judged too easily. "While there are moments of frustration for myself dealing with the character of Chris, an intelligent young man suffering from mental health issues, I have to admit if there was no frustration or challenge it means I'm clearly not doing my job right," he says. "With all of us working so hard and dedicating so much mind power and time, I am confident to say, you're in for a treat."
The play went to London's West End in 2001 to rave reviews and sell out performances. It is a tour de force for playwright Penhall who later adapted it for TV in 2005. For actor Christian Heath the play struck a chord as soon as he read it. "It covers such an array of relevant topics in today's society including race, power mental health and the hospital system," explains Heath. "As an actor, it is your job to tell the story and I'm very proud to assist in raising awareness and covering issues like these. It's a journey of discovery for me, learning not only about human beings but the lengths we'll go to fight for what we believe is right. What's normal and what's abnormal?"
Heath became a Mockingbird Theatre Company Member after his performance with the company in the critically acclaimed The Laramie Project staged at Chapel Off Chapel late last year. Since arriving in Australia from his native England only a couple of years ago, Heath has worked on numerous films, TV, commercial projects, and theatre projects including both incarnations of All That I Will Ever Be at Chapel Off Chapel in 2012.
Blue/Orange sees Heath traversing the somewhat dicey landscape of Bruce, a young psychiatric Doctor who is currently treating Christopher. "It's always a challenge to find the character from the text," admits Heath, " that's the fun part." His character soon discovers that treating patients 'by the book' wont get him anywhere in his career and that he must 'play the game'. Frustration mixed with the stark realisation that 'doing the right thing' therefore ensue. Heath continues: "The play is written with lots of overlapping conversational text which is a challenge in itself. Its a constant power struggle between the 3 actors on stage and it's high energy. High stamina required!"
New Zealand born actor Richard Edge comes to the project with a wealth of experience having worked in the TV movie Eruption and the feature films Lord of the Rings and Yogi Bear. His theatre credits span the breadth of Wilde and Chekhov. Blue/Orange is a play Edge has been waiting to sink his creative teeth into for some time. "My father saw the original production in London, was very moved by it, bought the script and handed it to me saying "you have to do this one day". I read it, loved it and have been waiting to either put it on or perform it ever since," says Edge who plays the older and patronizing Robert. The age difference between actor and character has been a challenge for Edge however his experience has allowed him to find things in rehearsal that he can play believably/realistically while still remaining faithful to the script and the character relationships and dynamics.
The play is an exciting, well written work that tackles important themes like mental illness, race and power. Says Heath: "It is a 3 person boxing match that'll leave you laughing, sad, frustrated and exhausted." Like all superlative theatre it promises to stimulate and engage. Edge describes it as a contemporary, stylish, thought provoking, funny and at times moving production. Felsinger's take is a little different but no less deliciously tantalizing, describing it as a three course meal- "A tangy entree, a Spicy main, and for dessert, a treat that will keep your taste buds wanting a little bit more."
Blue/Orange plays for 10 performances only at Broken Mirror Studios, 2c Staley St, Brunswick
Opening Night: Thursday 28 February at 8pm
Friday 1 March – Saturday 2 March at 8pm
Sunday 3 March at 5pm
Tuesday 5 March – Saturday 9 March at 8pm
Saturday 9 March at 2pm
$25 all tix – Tuesday 5 March
**Bargain tix shows below**
***For Bargain preview and opening night tickets go to: ON THE HOUSE: