Blind Man's Song
Unity Theatre Liverpool
On 23 May 2016
Review by David Sedgwick
Ever had that feeling when you walk into a hotel room and you want to walk straight out again? Well it happens in theatre, too.
Part of Liverpool Unity theatre’s 2016 PhysicalFest, Blind Man’s Song is a sixty-minute dance show centred, as the title implies, around the theme of blindness. "When we close our eyes, doesn’t it seem that everything becomes possible?"
Does it though? I’m not so sure. I’m also not so sure that merely closing one’s eyes is in any way comparable to blindness. Either way, one would certainly hope that Theatre Re thought long and hard about the whys and wherefores of dramatising a very sensitive topic.
Above all else, one can only hope that the topic was inspired by a genuine interest in blindness rather than the prospect of lottery support.
Did the company do any research into blindness? Meet blind people? The reason I ask is because the main character in this show wears standard black glasses, has a white stick and plays the piano….
Blind Man’s Song is essentially a boy meets girl story. Fans of contemporary dance will no doubt enjoy the interaction between Guillaume Pige and Selma Roth, which takes us on a journey through unity, separation and ultimately loss.
Stark, stabbing, brooding, dissonant, Alex Judd’s music provides a mesmerising, hypnotic backdrop to the on stage intertwining. When this always haunting backdrop happens to coalesce with a moment of intensity, fleetingly, this production soars.
It is precisely at such moments that, bereft of standard communication channels, this blend of dance, mime and music manages to enhance rather than diminish receptivity. Such moments however are all too rare.
At other times, the storytelling can feel a little sluggish. All too often, focus shifts to Alex Judd’s organ (no pun intended). An awful lot of gestures get lost along the way. Perhaps this explains the delayed reaction to the production’s ending: there isn’t one. Silence. Has it finished?
The rather shaky storytelling—or lack of it—might also explain the ubiquity of that bed. As far as props go, it’s a fine bed alright, light and lithe and very alluring, but it does get aired an awful lot. Sometimes it’s hard to escape a distinct feeling of time-filling.
As an introduction or appetiser, this production might arguably work a whole lot better; in terms of a main event, it feels a little slight. Once the main premise has been revealed, the show effectively settles down into a series of dance routines, some more effective than others.
To be honest, there’s simply not enough here to merit a full show. We are in niche territory; if contemporary dance is your thing all well and good. If not…
Overall Blind Man’s Song has some intriguing moments. Whether the theme of blindness is however actually integral to the work or just a matter of expediency is for others to judge.