Paines Plough / Frantic Assembly / Graeae, On Blindness

Review in Issue 16-2 | Summer 2004

The beginning is a blank canvas, and the end a rich collage of action, visuals and sound. On Blindness is a daring collaboration of three companies, three designers (one also a painter) and a writer, Glyn Cannon. The designer painter is Julian Crouch, Natasha Chivers produced the dramatic lighting, Nick Powell the sound and original music. Paines Plough (new writing) Frantic Assembly (physical, metaphoric work) and Graeae (Britain's leading company of disabled theatre practitioners) are the three companies. Between them they have much to say and to represent about contemporary mores and attitudes, in love, in art, in sex, in relationships between people with and without disabilities.

The skeleton of the piece is a pair of couples and their mating games. The weaving together of their contemporaneous stories, of the choreography of the couples and their friends, the abundance and confluence in the small space of the expressive means – words, movement, animated paintings – is ambitious and, after a slow start, engaging. The piece is brimming over with ideas and insights, also irony and humour. The language is everyday, even flat when it is not shocking – a contrast with the stylised staging.

The animated back-projections by Crouch are beautiful; the performances are in every case sharp and true. The piece was devised, but four directors are credited, Vicky Featherstone and Jenny Sealey and the two players from Frantic Assembly, Steve Hoggett and Scott Graham, whose movement poetry I would have liked more of.

Presenting Venue
Date Seen
  1. Feb 2004

This article in the magazine

Issue 16-2
p. 26