Plays by Joe Penhall

audio Blue/Orange

LA Theatre Works
Type: Audio

Two pschychiatrists - one new and inexperienced, the other his well-established mentor - battle over the diagnosis and treatment of Chris, a young black man who claims to be the son of African dictator Idi Amin. This dark, edgy comedy - winner of the 2001 Olivier Award for Best New Play - will leave you wondering if anyone in this threesome is sane.

An L.A. Theatre Works full-cast performance featuring Teagle F. Bougere, Matt Letscher and Daniel Davis.

Featuring: Teagle F. Bougere, Matt Letscher, Daniel Davis

video Blue/Orange (BBC Film Adaptation)

BBC Video
Type: Video

Blue/Orange is based on Joe Penhall's award winning play of the same name. In a London psychiatric hospital, an enigmatic young man claims, among other things, to be the son of an exiled African dictator - a story that becomes unnervingly plausible. In a fiery and suspenseful debate, his doctor and consultant clash over the patient's diagnosis and treatment. What ensues is an incendiary tale of race, madness and a Darwinian power struggle at the heart of a dying National Health Service. Filmed on location in London, and shot in high definition, this dynamic and often very funny adaptation of Joe Penhall's award-winning play retains the music, lighting and sound team from the original stage production, which premiered in April 2000.

‘Beautifully written - intelligent, complex, uncompromising and compassionate’ The Times

‘Riveting and intense … often-funny, always smart … Parkes delivers those lines with a manic energy illustrative of the lines Chris straddles. And both Simm and Cox match his intensity, to the point where one forgets there are only three speaking characters.’ Multichannel News, USA

‘All three acting performances are strong. Brian Cox is excellent as the ambitious Robert, gradually and artfully revealing the baser impulses that reside beneath the doctor’s polished professional demeanor. Shaun Parkes’s searing portrayal of Chris is the heart of the show and he is particularly good at giving life to the menagerie of concocted and also legitimate-fears that haunt the patient.” CultureVulture, USA

Awards for the original theatre production:

Best New Play Olivier Awards for 2001; Best Play of the Year, Evening Standard Awards 2000; Best New Play, Critics' Circle Theatre Awards 2000


Director: Howard Davies; Written and adapted by: Joe Penhall based on his award winning play of the same name; Producer: Richard Fell; Executive Producer: Bill Boyes; Starring: Brian Cox, John Simm, Shaun Parkes.

Distributed under licence from Educational Publishers LLP

Mood Music  

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

Music is medication. The elixir of life. It's for injecting into the blood stream to take away the pain…to promote euphoria…to adrenalise us and give us courage and fortitude'

In a top London recording studio, Cat, a young songwriter, her producer Bernard, their lawyers and psychotherapists go to battle over who owns a hit song. Amidst a gathering storm of bitter complaints and brutal recriminations Cat and Bernard inflict a devastating toll on each other in a war that only one of them can win.

'The music industry isn't about healing heartbreak and vulnerability. It's about selling it'

A sly, wry exploration of the dark side of the music industry by the multi-Olivier Award-winning writer of Sunny Afternoon and Blue/Orange, Joe Penhall.

This edition was published alongside the world premiere at The Old Vic, London in April 2018, directed by Roger Michell. 

Joe Penhall (b. Surrey, 1967) is an English playwright. His early work was championed by the Royal Court and he became resident dramatist at the Donmar Warehouse.

From Some Voices (1994) and Pale Horse (1995) to In Love and Understanding (1997) and The Bullet (1998) there is an exploration of male relationships, usually involving one individual whose eccentricity clashes dangerously with the responsible and timid aspirations of the other; this tension, frequently brought into crisis by sudden upsurges of intrusion, violence and sexual threat, is played out in a world of moral confusion and bewilderment.

Other plays include Blue/Orange (2000), a success at the National Theatre, which examines racism, health care and perceptions of madness and normality. It transferred to the West End, winning many awards including the Evening Standard Best Play Award, the Critics' Circle Award for Best New Play and the 2001 Olivier Award for Best New Play. More recently, Penhall wrote the screenplay for the film adaptation of Cormac McCarthy's acclaimed novel, The Road starring Viggo Mortensen (2009). Since then, Penhall has had a number of successful plays at the Royal Court including Haunted Child (2011) and Birthday (2012).