Picture this, a descriptive sound-based story about a group of sightless people lost in the woods. That’s The Blind that Culver-Stockton College presented this year. The play written by Maurice Maeterlinck in 1890 seems timeless. The play is short, coming in at under thirty minutes, but is effective and exceptional. The way this play is written is an artful craft that has a shocking relevance today. The world has changed drastically in the past year, messing with everything it touches. This play nods to everyday life. It shows the conflicts we have and how quick we as humans are to blame each other. It masterfully expresses how we lash out at those around us during times of fear or stress.
With the help of Director Dr. Haidee Heaton, the cast succeeded in creating a strong production which, toward the end, caused me to feel a bit of anxiety. Part of the reason the fear and anxiety are so strong is because of the overlapping sounds, each added one at a time, starting with the wind, then the leaves, followed by the footsteps which grow louder. The blind women, hearing the footsteps coming closer, raise their voices in panic. In retaliation, the blind men raise theirs too. Adding to the already intense barrage of sound, the mad woman is moaning and sobbing and the child is crying and screaming. The severe feelings made this play one that I would enjoy watching again. There is an inkling of the supernatural stalking the blind in the forest. Between the child crying at seeing something no one else can and the birds flying around at harsh moments, the fear creeps in around the small discussions and disclosing of more information.
No actors are seen on stage, but this is a great play to produce during a global pandemic. In another sense, the lack of actors on stage can put the audience into the shoes of the blind characters. Using sound effects of the sea, leaves, footsteps, and wind aided the cast in effectively telling the story. These sound effects were listed in the program as The Elements. The four-person group splendidly imitated the sounds of nature. The sounds were accompanied by a semicircle forest set and intense lighting (Seth Campbell). The reds presented fear and danger, while the greens brought the ambient forest feeling. The purple lights contrast the green lights rather well. The set and lighting were great, and the voices and sound effects are good enough to stand alone. I feel this would be a highly successful episode of a podcast, due to the recent popularity of podcasting. Overall, The Blind is worth a watch and a careful listen.