ALTHOUGH bare trunks of closely growing trees surround the stage for Blue Door, this is no inspiring scene of the natural world but something sinister - the trunks resemble the bars of a cage.

When successful African-American mathematics professor Lewis is invited by his white wife on a trip to the country he is afraid to go - anxious about who might be hiding behind the trees.

"Couldn’t I, if I chose, not be black, escape myself and be a part of the trees? I couldn’t, could I?" he says.

And so the scene is set: the tension between Lewis's (Ray Fearon) successful middle class life and his sometimes agonising awareness of how race sets him apart, and his reluctance to look back at the generations behind him or engage with the suffering and hardships they endured.

When Lewis's wife says she will divorce him for refusing to attend the Million Man March, it triggers his dark night of the soul. He is visited by three generations of his family, ghosts of the past - great grandfather Simon, who was born a slave, his grandfather Jesse, and his brother Rex. These three characters are played by Fehinti Balogun, a compelling and charismatic performer who vividly conjures up these three very different men with voice, gesture and movement.

Engaging, moving, laced with moments of humour, the single act play absolutely commands your attention with two superb performers, but it is not a consolatory watch. At one point Rex says, "You got a buncha white people sittin up in your head being your audience,” and describes him as living under a "white gaze" - a poignant metaphor when you are literally performing before a very largely white, Bath Ustinov audience.

Insightful, thought provoking and not to be missed.

Blue Door, written by Tanya Barfield, is at the Ustinov till March 9. Tickets are £23.50 (£18.50 concessions). To book, call 01225 448844 or visit