With their production of “Extremities, ” Actors Revolution Theatre proved that they could do big drama in small spaces, staging a psychologically intense play within an intimate setting and sustaining the right amount of dramatic tension without reaching an emotional fever pitch too soon. Their follow-up, Shakespeare’s “Richard II,” showed that the company had the acting chops to deliver memorable characters amidst wordy storytelling without verbalizing its audience to death. So it comes as no surprise that their revival of “Blue/Orange,” playwright Joe Penhall’s provocative, psychologically taut and verbose three-hander, has been given an engrossing and superbly acted production within the tiny confines of the Victory Gardens Greenhouse Theatre. Despite a simple plot—two white doctors in a London psychiatric hospital battle it out over the fate of a mentally troubled young black patient—the play is complex in its exploration of far-ranging subjects such as racism, political correctness, intellectual naiveté and semantics, institutional hierarchies and the failure of the mental-healthcare system. But my admiration for the play is in its refusal to allow its complex characters to fall into easily identifiable hero/villain categories: all three men are reckless, manipulative and desperately egocentric. That in performance each of them turns surprisingly sympathetic is a credit to director Jessica Jackson and the fine ensemble work from actors Jeff Radue, Gerard Dedera and Chris Lamberth. “I like you, but I never trusted you,” says one character to another in a chilling moment towards the end of “Blue/Orange.” After witnessing these morally ambiguous yet compulsively watchable performances, you might say the same of this fine cast in this fine revival by Actors Revolution Theatre. (Fabrizio O. Almeida)
“Blue/Orange” plays at Victory Gardens Greenhouse Theatre, 2257 North Lincoln, (773)871-3000, through January 20.