TWO psychiatrists have clashing views on how to deal with a patient, Chris, a young black guy.
The younger doctor, Bruce, a cool, caring character wants to have him sectioned, but his mentor Robert is an RD Laing devotee, a freethinker, who want to let him loose on the world. They battle it out and during punches we're asked to ask ourselves how we define madness. We're asked if we view eccentricity, being a headstrong colourful character, is somehow close to being psychotic. If a man thinks an orange is blue is he mad?
And just when we think we're taking one side or the other, other elements are thrown into the mix. Does race determine someone's behaviour – or is it social conditioning? Are the doctors' personal motivations playing a massive part in their decision making? Does Robert see Chris as a great case study for his next book? How far will Bruce capitulate to hold onto his job?
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If Joe Penhall's play sounds heavy, that's because it is. But it is fascinating, with immensely clever exchanges between all three men. And therein lies a flaw: Chris is astonishingly articulate and aware for a fruit market banana seller.
The play doesn't really push a dramatic narrative. We're caught up in the moment rather than moving towards an end point. That said, it's still great theatre. Oliver Wilson and Gerard McArthy are solid (although at times you can see the acting), but Downton's Robert Bathurst is a class act and a master of nuance.
It's not a long play, but the direction is so fast you get so many more clever words for your money.