The Blind Review
Last week I passed The Old Quad, the inner courtyard of Edinburgh University’s most magnificent building. On its walls are plastered posters and an abundance of information about this show. But all I took in as I strolled past were a few choice images, something about it being Polish, something about physical theatre and…that was enough, I got a ticket.
I took my place against a balcony wall overlooking the staging area just as two military jets roared overhead splitting my eardrums and adding immeasurable production values to the event. It also got a ripple of sarcastic applause from the audience, everyone aware they were really heading to the Military Tattoo.
And also just before the show began I noticed a glamorous looking woman in a bright dress standing amongst the crowd. She seemed out of place like a film star in cornmer shop buying a pint of milk. I was just beginning to think ‘I wonder if she’s one of the performers…’ when she made her way past the barriers and spun onto the stage.
The music kicks in, the lights fade up and out of nowhere the rest of the performers who were also embedded amongst us begin to waltz joyfully around. It’s like watching young lovers frolick to and fro in the local park on a summer’s day. I was already smiling.
But all good things must come to an end and they do so abruptly. It all goes horribly wrong. The cause of the calamity isn’t clear and it doesn’t need to be for throughout all we see makes wordless sense. A descent into some kind of hell or a fall from grace occurs as all but one of the performers go blind and begin to stumble around in disbelief and horror.
The performance is conducted in a series of interlinking chapters that come full circle as if imitating the cycle and rituals of a life. Various subjects are fused into each set piece – love, calamity, control, survival, community, religion & sexuality all feature in both light and dark forms.
Much of it is all enhanced by the use of very minimal but significant props and visual effects. Particularly a series of hospital beds on wheels doubling up for transport, walls and doors. Their use ranges from the macabre to the comic but is always imaginatively done.
It’s perhaps not the most original physical theatre I’ve ever seen and perhaps some of the set pieces could have been trimmed by a few minutes but compensating for this in spades is that everything is visually stirring, bordering on being gloriously cinematic.
It’s also worth getting a ticket just for the score and soundscape throughout. Some pieces are reminiscent of The Gotan Project, some of a Gorecki style symphonic work and much is like incidental music by John Barry for a Bond film. I could have happily closed my eyes for the whole thing and just drifted off.
But it doesn’t get soporific enough for that as there are two or three thrilling moments that wake you up when the performance, lighting and music changes tempo and erupts, along with explosions of wind blown confetti into wild and colourful movement that had the hairs on the back of my neck standing to attention.
It’s a hypnotic, visual and aural feast best enjoyed as an experience not to be analysed or understood but just let it pleasantly wash over your senses.
Show times Til 27 Aug, 10.30pm