Devised by: The Paper Birds and Grace Savage
Director: Jemma Mc Donnell
Producer: Bonnie Mitchell
Reviewer: Charlotte Broadbent
Taken from sounds heard throughout her whole life; from her Mother’s wise words of wisdom to lyrics of the songs she loves, Grace Savage’s autobiographical journey exposes how our aural discoveries have made all of us who we are, whether we knew it or not. A mixture of beat boxing, slapstick, mime and discussion delivered with unfaltering energy, ensures that this one woman show never slips in pace and always keeps you guessing.
The show opens in classical carnival style with a brief fantasy played out where baby Grace is handed over to circus folk, all played out in silhouette with Savage playing a caricature of her own mother. The back drop forms a caravan shape and the bare light bulbs bespeak an atmosphere of old world entertainment. Then, an unassuming and almost shy, Miss Savage steps out to introduce herself. Her personable approach and gentle humour draws the audience into this informal performance style.
Savage warmly and boldly draws us into her world talking about her childhood; trying to fit in throughout school, her early musical influences and how she found beat boxing. As one would hope from the two time UK champion there is plenty of beat boxing throughout the show. Sometimes as huge and intricate songs that she creates live on stage, and sometimes just the odd sound thrown into the dialogue. Especially effective is when Savage recounts some of the news stories she recalls hearing from different points in her life. She plays the newscasters and the white noise in between stories.
There are even moments of audience interaction where Savage teaches the crowd some fundamental beat box sounds which she then records and loops to create a piece of music using the audiences voices, and screams. Later in the show she plays soothing music, inviting the audience to listen closely to the melody. Adding sound effects of a train on the tracks and voices chattering, she poignantly demonstrates how we can’t always avoid sounds from trickling in. How some of the sounds in our world are unavoidable.
There are some beautifully touching moments, one in particular is when Savage interviews her Mother (whom she previously portrayed in the production). By using her Mothers real voice on the recording it allows Savage to be vulnerable and honest. The strongest moment in the show is when Savage combines popular misogynistic hip hop lyrics against a projected backdrop of her YouTube comments. Starting with kind comments and playful songs we’ve all hummed along to, it progresses to the powerfully ugly things people are willing to post online set against shocking lyrics we know but don’t always consciously hear, making it terrifying to realise just what we are absorbing. Savage makes this point even more unavoidable and inexcusable when she pulls down the rap lyrics and reduces it to spoken text. No more bravado, just simple language.
This bold, hilarious and infectious piece of theatre will stay with you long after you have left the building. Blind is completely unique and absolutely unmissable.
Runs until: 28th October then touring