Review of The Braille Legacy at The Charing Cross Theatre

The Braille Legacy: Jack Wolfe, Guillermo Bedward, Honey Harrison-Maw, Eliz Hassan - Photo Scott Rylander
The Braille Legacy: Jack Wolfe, Guillermo Bedward, Honey Harrison-Maw, Eliz Hassan – Photo Scott Rylander

Louis Braille’s legacy has been brought to life at the Charing Cross Theatre by an inspirational group of creatives and an exceptional leading man.

The cast are on the whole, very good, but Jack Wolfe is a star. His Louis Braille is heartwarming and he holds the stage with a natural finesse and ease which is quite astonishing as this is his professional debut (he is due to graduate from Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts this year). His relationship with Jason Broderick’s Gabriel Gauthier is touching and the pair play across from each other wonderfully, Broderick takes his character on a fantastic journey which is really exciting to watch, going from a delinquent who taunts Braille to a supportive best friend. Wolfe’s voice is like honey, it warms your heart which at times gives him leverage to then break it. He is definitely the standout performance in the show and someone to keep a keen eye on, as I have no doubt this is the first step on a long and successful career.

Thom Southerland’s direction is as always visually spectacular and paired with Tim Shortall’s gorgeous spinning set, it is art. Yet, Southerland never makes the mistake of allowing visuals to be more important than the piece itself. He uses the imagery to create a foundation on which the story is built, the set never distracting from scenes only adding to it, creating this beautiful yet simple world. Lee Proud’s choreography adds to this not only in the scenes with dance but movement, to again, create these gorgeous and powerful images, particularly when the full ensemble are involved. Yet, while these beautiful images are being created, it is important not to forget that the show is about a blind hero, and Andy Johnson’s sound design does not. There were a number of audience members who were blind or visually impaired on the night I attended and Johnson makes the show as much an auditory experience as a visual one.

However, with all of the creative input, the production itself seems slightly underdeveloped. The show needs a bit more work to take full advantage of the creative input it has been gifted with. I feel it has not reached its full potential.

It’s worth seeing purely for Jack Wolfe and the creative team’s work but I hope that the next time the production is on, it has received a little more development to really tell the story to its full dramatic potential.

Three and a half gold stars

Review by Kara Taylor Alberts

The Braille Legacy
Based on an original idea by
Sébastien Lancrenon
French book and lyrics by
Sébastien Lancrenon
Music by Jean-Baptiste Saudray
Translation by Ranjit Bolt

Charing Cross Theatre
The Arches
Villiers Street
London WC2N 6NL

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