An innovative experience premieres at the festival this year in the form of David Leddy’s political thriller, City of the Blind. The ‘play’ is to be viewed entirely on smartphones, laptops, tablets or any other internet-led device as it consists of six half-hour chapters that include e-mail messages, texts, audio clips and video footage.
At over three hours long, the performance begins to feels more like a television mini-series and the concept begins to wear off.
It follows rookie UN employee Cassandra Al-Khatib as she finds cover-ups of brutal ongoing rapes happening at the hands of UN peacekeeper soldiers. It’s a dark and controversial subject matter that Leddy backs up with real-life articles covering the issue at the end of each chapter. Leddy has certainly came up with a unique and admirable way of presenting his research and creating an intriguing experimental thriller.
Sadly it doesn’t always convince. One of the major themes that is attempted is a ‘Big Brother’ style surveillance of our main character. However the video footage never truly captures that feel. It is often shot at different angles, which negates the concept of it being CCTV footage. The result is that every scene feels staged, a feeling enhanced by the rather weak performances by the actors. The plot itself begins to feel spoon-fed: at one point we are given the opportunity to read a ‘secret’ document that has sections blacked out by an unknown person, but they seem to have left all the important information unblocked. If the audience were given the opportunity to discover clues themselves by finding more hidden pockets of information within the chapters it would have been a much more satisfying experience.
At over three hours long, the performance begins to feels more like a television mini-series and the concept begins to wear off. If the thoughts behind the performance are that it can be watched online anywhere then I’m sure some people may be put off sitting in Starbucks or on public transport a woman crying or even footage of a violent rape, both of which feature.
City of the Blind is a fascinating idea for a piece of theatre that hopefully will be a stepping stone for Leddy to create something a little more complex next time round.