Set in a London psychiatric hospital, Blue/Orange is basically a 2½ hour debate between two psychiatrists over the diagnosis and fate of a patient who might be schizophrenic, might be the son of a ruthless African dictator, or, simply, might be having a hard time. The young doctor (Dan Clegg) is eager to diagnose and label the patient (neurotic? psychotic? borderline personality disorder?), while his elder supervisor (Julian Lopez-Morillas) wonders whether perhaps the patient is just a bit paranoid and depressed, as that is the natural state of humanity. This is only the beginning of a mildly engaging, multilayered debate that twists and turns through career ambition, ethnocentric bias, policy, and perhaps a lazy doctor just wanting to diagnose with the path of least resistance.
As the patient, Carl Lumby (Cagney & Lacey and Alias) delivers an erratic performance careening from distracting and manic cartoon physicality in act one to a more effective quiet menace in the second act. With two doctors who never budge in their ambition and arguments, along with some pacing issues, the debate grows tiresome and repetitive, especially after the two-hour mark. Blue/Orange reveals some disturbing truths about the business of psychology, but it takes too long to do so.
Blue/Orange continues through March 18 at Lorriane Hansberry Theatre, 450 Post (at Mason), S.F. Admission is $43-55; call 474-8800 or www.LHTSF.org.