The Blind Spot

Wed 15th – Fri 17th February 2012

reviews

Aakash Balani

at 09:40 on 16th Feb 2012

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"The Blind Spot" was a student-written play and Alexander Darby has done a fantastic job. "The Blind Spot" is about a secret poker game between four public school boys set in the rooms of their boarding school.

Alexander Darby writes a gripping narrative that is high on suspense and is fast moving. Not once does the narrative falter, not once does it drift off another tangent and yet in spite of that it manages to encapsulate a certain viciousness amongst the underground poker network, and perfectly illustrate a ruthlessness that has crept into these boys, while still not having completely lost their innocence.

A note about the characters created – they are deep, complex and are so different that there seems to be a ever present tension pervading the room, not just when the poker is being played. My favourite character was Johnson, the mysterious new boy at the school not just with a dark background, which is the case for almost all of the characters but also a very mysterious one. A certain aura of sinisterness hangs around him, a menacing like quality, subtle. And Matija Vlatkovic who does play the character of Johnson should be given full credit for bringing out the character of Johnson so well. An air of composedness and mysteriousness is maintained constantly and keeps the audience on their toes about is Johnson, the new boy, the target of the old hands, in fact the one holding all the cards?

Fen Greatley throws in a terrific performance – this is the 3rd play I have seen him in and not only is he extremely versatile and dynamic but his performances are powerful and often easily personify the themes. He slips into the character of Sasha, the ringleader with such ease and despite having seen Fen in other performances, when he acts, you only see Sasha – nothing of Fen. His performance and character in combination give a perfect illustration of the 'callous teenage humanity' that is a constant, and most jarring theme in the play.

The onstage dynamics between the actors were excellent and Hugh Jeffery, the director should be given a lot of credit for that along with doing great justice to a well written script to make it so visually endearing and exposing the vulnerability of a certain class of people who would normally be called as living in a bubble. Hugh, along with Anna Bradshaw (Lighting) and Polly Simpson (Sound) really deserve a mention for the attention to detail which was a delight, right from the props which were elaborate – to the lighting and sounds, which were used the perfectly to complement the narrative.

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Comments

Xandra Burns; 16th Feb 2012; 20:11:00

"The Blind Spot" has the potential to be an emotionally intense, witty and profound account of the dangers of peer pressure and the dynamics of a shifty group of friends. At many points, it succeeds. As a whole however, it fails to provide that essential urgency factor that causes you to invest in the characters and the story.

I can appreciate the intricacies of Darby's writing - the language of the poker game trickles into the characters' colloquial exchanges. Conversations surrounding "lying" in particular provoke consideration of how the game is relevant to their lives when the cards are stacked safely away.

The writing is solid, the set is realistic, and the actors are natural. Fen Greatley stands out as the casually manipulative Sasha, displaying a range of emotions that nearly compensate for the play's overall lack of compelling drive. I found myself thrown into the action too early to become acquainted with the characters deeply enough to care about their fates - although I wanted to.

Darby’s dialogue carries a pleasant balance of realism and wittiness, and the actors' deliveries of these lines are among the most admirably conversational I've seen in Oxford. The subject of the play, while dramatic and deep, feels as if it has been done before. It is reminiscent of last term’s “Posh” by Laura Wade and Simon Stephens’ “Punk Rock,” whose revival cast performed at the Playhouse in 2010. Both fantastic productions have raised my standards in this genre, making competition difficult. “The Blind Spot” offers some excellent acting and writing and guarantees a contemplative evening - I only with that I could have resonated with the characters as well as the ideas that is presents.

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