By Catherine Wagley
By Channing Sargent
By L.A. Weekly critics
By Amanda Lewis
By Catherine Wagley
By Carol Cheh
By Keegan Hamilton
By Bill Raden
"You put voices in my head," Christopher will later accuse him, though nobody but Christopher insists that his father is Idi Amin, or that his mother is living in penury in London. Nobody, at least by play's end, forces Christopher to insist that an orange in a fruit bowl is actually blue. So who's right?
Add to the mix the senior consultant, the "expert" Dr. Robert Smith (Jonathan Salisbury), who has any number of motives, some budgetary, to get Christopher back on London's streets. That those streets are populated by aggressive, bigoted skinheads is reason enough to incite Christopher's "paranoia." The world is driving Christopher nuts, compounded by the petty squabbles between his two doctors.
Through the course of the two-act drama, Smith will eviscerate his younger colleague's career, using his own words and behaviors against him in a trial of nerves not unlike that in David Mamet's professor-student sexual-harassment drama Oleanna: Accusations drafted from too-loose lips, twisted into criminal charges.
9820 Washington Blvd.
Culver City, CA 90232
Region: Culver City
496 S. Arroyo Parkway
Pasadena, CA 91105
Category: Performing Arts Venues
Region: Pasadena and vicinity
Unlike in Mamet's play, everyone here has a valid case, a reason for believing what they do, expressed in words fueled by rage at life, by conviction and by chemicals. The meaning in the words themselves — so articulately and poetically expressed by all characters — dissolve by play's end, so all that's left are portraits of persecution, rationalized by all those fluttery, dissembling words.
Blue/Orange is directed by Ty Mayberry, artistic director of a newish company to watch, Player King Productions. It's being performed in the gymnasiumlike setting of the Dance Conservatory of Pasadena.
A single row of seats circles the stage, which is bathed in Forrest Lancaster's wash of lights. Lighting cues, if they exist, are hard to detect. The play holds our interest with the intelligence of the performances. Frazier's Christopher contains a charismatic, athletic energy. Freitas' Dr. Flaherty is filled with a bluster and has a slightly wobbly dialect, but not wobbly enough to detract. Salisbury's Dr. Smith is a smooth pillar of smugness, contained in the way he looks at opponents, and looks through them.
The corrosiveness of words links Krapp's Last Tape and Blue/Orange. The former concerns all of us passing through time, clinging to old tapes and tropes for meaning; the latter lays on personal ambitions, which makes it a more complicated look at verbiage and its attendant lunacy, but with a smaller breadth. It is, still, a very good play presented here in an absorbing production.
KRAPP'S LAST TAPE | By Samuel Beckett | A Gate Theatre, Dublin, production, presented by Center Theatre Group at the Kirk Douglas Theatre, 9820 Washington Blvd., Culver City | Tues.-Fri., 8 p.m.; Sat., 2 & 8 p.m.; Sun., 1 & 6 p.m.; through Nov. 4 | (213) 628-2772 | centertheatregroup.org
BLUE/ORANGE | By Joe Penhall | Presented by Player King Productions at the Dance Conservatory of Pasadena, 496 S. Arroyo Parkway, Pasadena | Sun.-Mon., 8 p.m.; through Nov. 12 | brownpapertickets.com/event/275545