Blind Eye, by April Phillips and directed by Teresa Sullivan – Review by Andrew London.

Kapiti theatre-goers are certainly spoilt for choice at the moment. Coasters production of Menopause The musical is a joyous and accessible frolic guaranteed to raise a smile, but if your taste runs to something more dramatic and intellectually substantial, get along to ‘Blind Eye’ at the Kapiti Playhouse.

Wellington playwright April Philips has had a string of successful plays produced all over New Zealand and abroad. Many readers will be familiar with ‘Stiff’, ‘Death and Taxes’, ‘Bonking James Bond’ or ‘Snip’; but, with the exception of the slightly edgier ‘Motel’ (also staged at the Playhouse a year or two ago), all fall solidly into the comedy basket. ‘Blind Eye’ is something of a departure, and leads the audience down some particularly dark societal alleyways, forcing us to ponder on our most basic concepts of right and wrong. For most of us, these matters are generally black and white; but as Patrick, the young policeman in the show, points out, ‘It’s the grey that keeps you up at night’.

The production is sparse, but convincing variation of setting is provided by imaginative direction from Teresa Sullivan and evocative lighting by Peter Fleming and the technical crew. With a cast of only four, attention can focus more intently than usual on the dialogue, which must therefore be delivered snappily and crisply. Alistair Smith and Dominique Ware, as policeman and district nurse, achieve this admirably, drawing the audience into their relationship by degree throughout the show. Special mention must be made of Sullivan’s using the song ‘Say Something’ as an accompaniment to the young couple’s dialogue; their lines synchronised perfectly with pauses in the song’s vocals.

John Govier and Rachel Neilson portray elderly couple Wally and Vera with great sensitivity. These are demanding roles involving lengthy scenes of great emotional rawness and both excel, drawing the audience into their world of tenderness and devotion, their virtual ‘holidays’ and, ultimately, their pasted-over past.

Blind Eye is a provocative work, illustrating once again that writers who tend naturally towards the comic can often be relied on to explore society’s darker side with great insight. This is an outstanding play from one of New Zealand’s greatest and most prolific playwrights, and to see it performed so well in our local theatre is a privilege.

Blind Eye is on at Kapiti Playhouse from November 21 to December 1. Find out more.