Wednesday, 1 August 2012

The Blind

Adapted from the novel by the Nobel Prize winning Jose Saramago, The Blind is an unflinching look at the breakdown of social order following an epidemic of blindness. Victims of the illness are shoved away into a closed environment, isolated and left to their own devices. The inevitable dissolution of civilisation, and the compulsion of savage instinct, is played out over a spectacular set and through music, choreography and on an overpowering and massive scale.

The early scenes establish, briefly, that these victims are unexceptional: before the sickness hits, they are a broad cross-section of society. Yet their outward personae, their professions, their status, their joys, are stripped away with their sight: as the performance progresses, they are sucked into a vortex of chaos.

Yet rather than merely descending into an animalistic viciousness, the characters evolve their own version of society, bonded by rituals, a distorted and confused social consensus. There's no sense that the victims are interested in simple survival, as they replace their lost identities with a collective cohesion. Alien, frightening and violent it may they may be, but the rituals are recognisably human attempts to explain the horror around them.

The emphasis on choreography and music over word and script adds to the sense of dislocation, but also engages on a visceral, immediate level. Theatrically daring, it intelligently speculates on how humanity deals with forces beyond its control or comprehension.

Old College Quad, 3- 27 August 




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