Culture Theatre

Double Vision review: an elegant and inclusive show

by Ilona Cabral

★★★★☆

Loosely based on Alfred Hitchock and Ernest Lehman’s unfinished script, “The Blind Man”, Double Vision is a thrilling Murder mystery/ gig which is new on the scene at the Festival of Voice. Co-produced by the Millennium Centre and Cardiff Theatre Company Gagglebabble the female-led production showcases Gagglebabble’s signature dark humour and haunting original scores.

From the moment we step in the theatre, the audience is immersed in the interactive experience of life aboard the exclusive ocean liner, the Empress, as it sets on its disastrous course to Havana.

To begin with, everything is plain sailing as we are introduced to Bar Maid Mel (Mared Jarman), singer Serena (Lisa Jên Brown) and a comical cast of self-absorbed passengers – from the plastic surgery-obsessed retirees to the obnoxious honeymooners. However, as a storm hits, the liner is pitched into chaos and as events become more sinister, characters disappear and perspectives begin to change.

The show is certainly a treat all for the senses and lighting and vision director Joshua Pharo truly outdoes himself. His stunning use of lighting and projection simultaneously allows fully sighted audience members to appreciate how Serena’s ‘sees’ throughout the show, whilst also making the show more accessible to visually impaired audience members.

Furthermore, the 1950s esk use of silhouette projection allows each character to develop a visual, as well as emotional, identity. Singer Serena is continually portrayed in a goddess manner, bathed in blue light in loose flowing gowns. Meanwhile, grotesque skeletal and bloated dummies are skilfully used to elderly portray the passengers.

This reduced visibility also works to make the audience appreciate other aspects of the show even more.  The haunting original soundtrack perfectly suits the story development, morphing from a blend of Celtic harmony and light cocktail party music to overwhelming Hispanic rumba rhythms in the denouement.

My only point of complaint would be with regards to the plot, which was truly reminiscent of Hitchcock in terms of its’ simplicity – more characters development is definitely needed for the show to be classified as a true ‘whodunit’ or mystery.

Overall though Double Vision was an elegant and inclusive show with a stunning soundtrack and visual element. I can only hope that Gagglebabble releases the soundtrack for the show as soon as possible!

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