Monday 16 October 2017

In Touch, Dorfman Theatre, 14th October 2017

In Touch is a co-production of An Inclusion Theatre Company and Theatre of Nations in association with Graeae Theatre Company, National Theatre, the British Council, and Sense. The cast is made up of deafblind, blind, visually impaired, D/deaf, hard-of-hearing, sighted and hearing people sharing their stories. They are accompanied by Jenny Agutter and Yevgeny Mironov telling of the lives of Olga Skorokhodova and Professor Suvorov, pioneering deafblind academics.

We are told about the actors’ lives, experiences of blindness and deafness, and their hopes and dreams. The most heart-wrenching part for me was hearing what the last thing they remember seeing was. The show is not designed to induce pity, quite the opposite, it challenges any misconceptions that deafblind people are different, showing that they have the same hobbies, hopes and dreams as anyone else. It is saddening to realise just how hard it is for them to engage with the rest of the world with such a pitiful lack of inclusive opportunities.

The mix of spoken, signed, and physical theatre made for an eclectic, engaging show. Parts were in Russian, leaving me reliant on the surtitles. This, and the way the focus jumped around from actor to actor, from one theme and style of performance to another, gave a sense of disorientation, which I assume was intentional. This was probably the most inclusive event I’ve ever been to – there was audio description, surtitles, and live BSL interpretation. May this be an example of what can be achieved and its lead followed by other theatres.

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