Old College Quad
(Originally published here)
Inspired by the novel by Portuguese Nobel Prize Winner Jose Saramago, “The Blind” is a story in pictures, exploring both what it is to be blinded but also diving into the darker side of human behaviours. Starting out as a conventional dance, the performers of KTO slowly dissolve as a recognisable civilisation, diving into the animalistic behaviours of the confined as they are blinded inexplicably by some very effective (and apparently scented) stage smoke. One member of the original group is left unaffected, and she bravely attempts to keep control of the ensuing chaos. And chaos it is: on a grand scale, we witness multiple personal breakdowns play out, catching snippets of one despair here and one attempt to continue life there, as the asylum-esque beds are poled around the stage to a disconcertingly beautiful score.
The performers seem completely out of control – I found myself wondering about how many of them must have hurt themselves during the rehearsal process – but the movement evolves into a whirling and hypnotic dance that completely evokes the pain and anger of the abandoned human. Deliberately gratuitous nudity acts as a shocking addition to the piece: the uniformed blind suddenly gendered in a moment, hierarchies revealed as the performers are stripped bare.
All of the technical effects are stunning and there is a tango sequence in particular that is absolutely breathtaking and the large space at the Quad is always used to its full effect. The set is wonderfully adaptive, and the continually circling beds make for a captivating watch. If you like your theatre big, bold and beautiful, then this is the one for you: there is always something to look at, and the story – like the smoke that rises up above the stage – is to be inhaled rather than analysed.