9 March 2023
BLIND (Coronet Theatre) Review

I first heard about this show when it was scheduled just before and then cancelled due to the Covid lockdown.  It’s a display of dance and large-scale puppetry that’s a collaboration of Duda Paiva Company from the Netherlands and Black Hole Theatre from Australia.  The show is performed by Duda Paiva of the former and is directed by Nancy Black of the latter.

Unfortunately, I had read the show blurb, which seriously contributed to the setting of expectations with which I came to the show.  Specifically, I thought it was going to be about Paiva’s temporary blindness (i.e., being in the dark, feeling his way through things), followed by coping and healing.  That might as well be what sparked the idea for the show, but this story doesn’t come across, big goggles notwithstanding.  Instead, what we see is a story of a person with a body deformed by cysts (which also happened to Paiva) who, whilst going to healers, goes through anger, hope, and, ultimately, making himself whole again.  It’s a beautiful story, and the foam puppets (especially Madame) are incredible.  Paiva later spoke about his technique for making them move head to toe (yay post-show Q&A).

I felt a little annoyed at how long it took to get to the puppets though.  First there is a bit of funny schtick (which is meant to bond the audience with Paiva), then there is a bit of modern dance (which is where Paiva’s roots are), and only then do we get to the puppets.  The whole thing felt like an evening in a hippie den.  I don’t mean this in a negative way:  it’s only good or bad depending on your philosophical outlook on these things.  When Paiva took the ‘hope’ puppet to the edge of the stage, people were stretching their arms to it.  It’s not for the cynics, but a lot of it is genuinely heartwarming.

It’s a short sharp performance, and if you don’t get hung up on (or confused by) the original description, it’s a fantastic way to see something new and different.

Cheapskate enjoyment value: £5.

Bonus: Between the end of the show and the start of the Q&A, audience members were invited to come up on stage and interact with the puppets.  That was an incredibly generous offer, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

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