REVIEW: Blindness at MELBOURNE FRINGE

The end is in sight

By Myron My

Inspired by Jose Saramago‘s novel and created by Justin Nott and Robert Smith, this play tells a story of an epidemic that takes over the world where everyone eventually – but suddenly – turns blind. Initially thought to be a contagious disease, the first people inflicted with the loss of sight are put into a large facility to be quarantined.

Blindness

It is there we witness the crumbling of humanity and civilisation with people turning on each other to survive. It is here where we experience new Melbourne Fringe festival show, Blindness.

Limited to ten people per show (bookings essential), we are blindfolded and, holding hands, are guided to a room. We are then separated and the blindfolds come off. All I can see is white – and nothing else. Just a white bright light all around me. Panic immediately sets in and I take a few deep breaths trying to figure out how they have managed to do this. Did they put some sort of mask over me while the blindfold was on? It is a few minutes later I realise the simplicity and ingenuity of how they have “blinded” me. I am not even sure how many actors are in the piece as we can only hear them. The attention to my internal terror and anxiety is on par with the attention I am giving to the actors.

There is not much of a story here, and perhaps it’s because I am quite familiar with the novel and film that I am able to follow and fill in the blanks. The very loose narrative jumps over quite large gaps, so for someone who is new to Blindness, it could be difficult to understand. While the story is being told, I am free to roam around. I occasionally bump into someone and am sometimes so close to someone that I can hear their breathing but still unable to see them. The interaction with the actors (or maybe some emotional audience members?) adds to the whole experience and another example of the brilliant immersive theatre taking over the Melbourne scene.

Blindness is a work in development and there is great potential to this show but a lot more attention needs to be focused on the unfolding narrative to really make audience members appreciate what they have experienced.

Blindness is showing as part of the 2013 Melbourne Fringe Festival.

Venue: Second Edition, Rear of Higher Ground, 222 Johnston St, Collingwood

Season: Until 28 September | 7;00pm and 10:00pm

Tickets: Free

Bookings: ESSENTIAL – blindness.fringe@gmail.com

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