Tom Skelton @ Underbelly Med Quad

An engaging character show that peers into the soul behind blindness

Review by Ben Venables | 07 Aug 2017
  • Tom Skelton

Tom Skelton has found an ideal venue in the University Med Quad for Blind Man's Bluff. Playing an ophthalmologist, Dr Ryley, he introduces a case history and patient with Leber's Hereditary Optic Neuropathy. The patient is Tom Skelton.

He started to lose his vision in 2009 with a slight blur in his left eye, but now has very little of his original sight. Skelton brings to bear the extent of what he's lost, through the lives – literary or otherwise – of others with impaired sight, from a Biblical demigod like Samson to Paralympic sprinter Libby Clegg. But these visits and thumbnail biographical sketches don't always serve Skelton as the inspiration Dr Ryley intends, leaving us with recurring questions unanswered, such as if the patient can be happy, if he can find love and if life can really be said to have worked out for Louis Braille, who may have invented a tactile writing system, but was he content?

It isn't a sombre hour though. It is an always fun, sometimes intense, revolving door character show, where even a 12th century king – Bèla the Blind – pays a visit. There's a touch too much going on. As a character showcase it highlights Skelton's eclectic performance skills, but it occasionally distracts from an intention that is asking a little more than that, and for which Skelton probes the nature of disability and happiness with both feeling and ingenuity.

This review is based on a preview performance.

Tom Skelton: Blind Man's Bluff, Underbelly, Med Quad (Daisy), 2-28 Aug (not 16), 4.30pm, £8-£10 http://www.underbelly.co.uk