Manchester Theatre Awards

> Independent informed reviews by the region’s most experienced critics

Blind Man’s Song

Guillaume Pigé and Theatre Re company
Theatre Re
The Lowry, Salford
19 September 2015

Mime is not a well-respected art form. Many find watching a man pretend to struggle against a high wind to be risible rather than amusing. Theatre Re set out to redeem the genre with a vibrant and emotional piece that draws in also elements of drama and dance.

‘Blind Man’s Song’(conceived and directed by Guillaume Pigé and devised by the company) is a sensory rather than sensual work . The lingering scent on a handkerchief provokes a powerful memory in the title character (played by Pigé). Guided by Selma Roth’s mysterious stranger (or possibly his own restless spirit) he begins a perilous journey towards reconciliation using his remaining senses of touch, smell and hearing.

Pigé's direction sets the mood of a dark dream. The blind man, dressed in a raincoat, trilby and his face obscured by a gauze mask, is a dead ringer for Rorschach- the sociopath comic character. The discordant violin and harsh piano music of Alex Judd, played live throughout, is disquieting; whilst it drives the characters towards their destination it makes clear the dangers involved. There are moments of strange wonder – the title character gazing in awe at something only a blind man can see.

Theatre Re does not limit the production by dogmatically employing only a single technique. Although the story is told in mime, with the characters opening doors and squeezing through gaps, the interplay between Pigé and Selma Roth has the fluid motion of dance. The obstacles encountered during the journey are starkly illustrated through dramatic jarring sound effects.

Taken together the various elements of ‘The Blind Man’s Song’ form a compelling and disturbing story. It makes extensive use of, but is not limited to, mime techniques that fully involve the audience.

Reviewer: David Cunningham