I went to the theatre and didn’t see a thing! Sunday Morning at the Centre of the World – Southwark Playhouse – Review

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This inventive production has half the audience blindfolded whilst the remainder watch the play and the audience. I opted to be blindfolded whilst my wife chose not to be. I was blindfolded before entering and gently guided to my seat by one of the cast. A cacophony of sounds and noises were occurring, water running, birds singing, spoons stirring in mugs.

Then we were transported into the Sunday morning of the play. What followed was a sensory experience  unlike any other I’ve had. The cast perform this piece whilst creating all the necessary sounds, smells and touches for the audience. It was truly bizarre having to rely on my other senses during a play for a change. It took me a fair while to adjust, and because of this I didn’t really engage as best I could with the first ten minutes or so of the play. Once “acclimatised” though I really managed to connect with the world the actors were portraying.

I feel that primarily the sound effects and use of their voices was the cleverest and most effective part. Voices appeared from all directions in a variety of accents and tones. The narrator would be speaking in front of you and the next moment he was speaking from the other side of the theatre. I was keen to take my blindfold off to see actually how many were in the cast as I knew it could not be as many as it sounded like. Like the good theatre goer I am though I waited until the end .(I admit I did peek once or twice)

The smells that were wafted under my nose were fun, but I did feel that several times I had no idea what the smell was or what it was meant to convey. The stronger and more distinct smells made up for this though. I was surprised how smell could be used to help conjure up scenes and images, perhaps this is something for other theatre practitioners to bear in mind for other productions?

The play itself is a charming and quaint tale that has instantly recognisable characters from everyday life and draws on the mundane of life to present the microcosm of life in Earlsfield to reflect back to us the world we too live in, with the blue plastic bags flying through the air, elderly folk watching and commenting on the world, dogs dying and youths playing music too loud in their cars.

My wife who saw the play without a blindfold (I’ll be honest I did peek a couple of times  we were told we could do that) said it was a play that could be watched on its own too, the cast do act their parts and seeing their interaction with the audience she found was really interesting. Part of me wants to go back and see it again, this time without a blindfold.

It’s nice to go to the theatre and see (or not in this case) something totally different. If experimental theatrical work is of interest then I recommend you consider this unusual piece. It’s a fun experience and a real challenge to “see” theatre without your eyesight and equally fun if you choose not to be blindfolded.

Congratulations to all involved (Bad Physics is the company, Amy Draper the Director, Ali Graham the Stage Manager) this will certainly be a theatrical memory I remember forever.

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2 thoughts on “I went to the theatre and didn’t see a thing! Sunday Morning at the Centre of the World – Southwark Playhouse – Review

  1. A slightly tangential comment, but as you mention smell, I once saw a production of Titus Andronicus where the pie* was hot and genuinely steaming, which made it so much more gruesome than in other productions where it’s either been cold, or once made of some sort of foam rubber in a very stylised Japanese production. The smell of hot food where it plays a significant part in the plot is a very smart move.

    *Spoiler alert. This is arguably the most traditional (ie bloody) revenge tragedy that Shakespeare wrote, and the pie contains the sons of one of the unknowing protoganosts.

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