THE context of Alan Harris’ gruelling play Orange is the War on Terror but the psychological issues it tackles can be transposed to any context, from sectarian Northern Ireland to Civil Rights horrors in the Deep South. While the tension and plot is based on taking an innocent hostage and threatening to kill him if a hostage taken by “the other side” is not released, this is just the vehicle for a story of the disposed, the aimless, the insecure, the innocents. While innocent may be a strange word to use for a hostage-taker, the character of Viv is a feckless, child in a grown up body, emotionally and at times physically dominated by his even more damaged elder brother Chippie.
The brothers take out their own despair and their own misguided belief in their position as champions of what is right in a corrupt system by kidnapping a black Muslim man and threatening to the authorities they will execute him if a female charity worker is not released by Islamic militants. Along the way out come pretty much every other bit of bigotry you can squeeze in – racism, sexism etc without a hint of self irony, rather, when talking about the barbaric terrorists the characters convince themselves “we are not like them”. The younger brother is left alone in the flat with their hostage and quickly they become mates as they kill time rather than one another. Of course the hostage is an ordinary bloke with his Tesco receipt in his wallet along with a photo of his son and shares interests with Viv in cars, cricket, card games. Chippie is the harder character who has “been inside” and is the violent thug with a delusional sense of mission.
Michael Kelligan directs this drama – part of his On The Edge season – with intensity that matches Harris’ shocking language and subject matter. With just three players, minimal costumes and props this is raw, immediate and deeply unpleasant in a highly satisfactory way.