Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Blindsided @ The Royal Exchange, 28.01.14

The Coronation Street stars – current and previous – were out in full flow at The Royal Exchange supporting Julie Hesmondhalgh (Hayley Cropper in Corrie) in Blindsided, the fourth play written by Stockport born writer Simon Stephens, who recently adapted The Curious Incident of The Dog in The Night Time.

The star of the show is Katie West who plays the lively, energetic and passionate Cathy Heyer. We warm to her entertaining exuberance and want her to succeed as she studies for an A level in History at Stockport College, something she is very excited about. There are tiny hopes of ambition in her that we want her to pursue so she can get away from domestic drudgery and the smell of the butchers. We are drawn to her raw passion and energy…but we are not the only ones, as a new arrival in town is soon enticed by the depth of her vitality.

Cathy is yearning to feel deeply, “I feel like every bit of me is awake and asleep at the same time,” and her wildest dream is to turn into somebody, but she declares, “No matter what happens, I’ll always be who I am.” However, when John Connolly (played by Andrew Sheridan) arrives on the scene, she starts to see things differently, “Round here you need people to shake things up a bit!”

Cathy falls blindly, desperately and quickly in love with Conolly, telling him, “I can get rather attracted to somebody suddenly.” But not to him, please Cathy! Sheridan plays a smug malevolent character so brilliantly that my skin crawls each time I see him on stage.

The director Sarah Frankcom successfully portrays a play of shattered dreams and shattered lives, where the characters seek to be free of the shackles in their minds. Stockport is brilliantly presented by the concrete slabs on the stage and the rain that comes and goes during the grim days.

Blindsided is the perfect title for this new play, for we are blindsided as we watch the characters’ raw emotions and devastating pain.

Words: Sadia Habib


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