The Braille Legacy
“powerful and meaningful”
In a school for the blind youth in Paris, a blind boy had a vision leading to his name going down in history.
The Braille Legacy was originally a French novel by Sébastien Lancrenon, who then wrote the lyrics for the stage show. Accompanied by Jean-Baptiste Saudray’s music, this made for a beautifully stunning score; the composition was pure and elegant, spurred on with passion and love. The show tells the story of Louis Braille and his amazing invention of Braille.
A small theatre and stage is currently home to this production and despite it’s small size, this made for a perfect atmosphere, making the show intimate and reflecting that one person who may seem small or insignificant can make for huge change. Jack Wolfe, who is yet to graduate from Mountview Academy of Performing Arts, was stunning as Louis Braille, portraying a sense of vulnerability and softness in the character you couldn’t help but be warmed to. His voice flowed elegantly like velvet through the songs in Act 1, yet determination and power in Louis Braille were also demonstrated by Wolfe further into the show in songs such as “Alphabet”, where he was joined by the rest of the ensemble to create a powerful and meaningful song.
West End and French performing star Jérôme Pradon led the cast with his portrayal of Doctor Pignier, Louis Braille’s friend and aid in developing the Braille system. Pignier cared for nothing than the children’s safety, education and well-being and Pradon’s performance of this character’s passion was stunning. The song “Liberte, Egalite, Fraternite” was heartbreaking, passionate and I couldn’t fault Pradon’s performance if I tried. The song is available on YouTube here and I highly recommend listening to it.
Direction of the show by Thom Southerland, who also directed Titanic and Death Takes A Holiday at the Charing Cross Theatre, was also perfect for the show’s message. Colour in the design and costume was cleverly thought out with those who were blind all in white, while others were dressed all in black. Further, the blind had cloths over their eyes to indicate even more their situation. This made following the plot very easy to follow, as well as white being a common colour to symbolise purity, innocence and vulnerability – which resonates with the blind children.
A criticism I have of the show is at one point, Louis’ younger self talks with him, but the younger self is dressed in black – implying that younger Louis could once see. I spent the rest of the show wondering when there would be a flashback to explain how Louis lost his sight but unfortunately my wish was not granted. The show required a lot of passion, and at times anger, and on some occassions I personally felt characters were shouting but I didn’t feel they were angry, instead shouting for the sake of shouting. These factors, however, did not impact on my enjoyment for the show.
I was, however, nearly brought to tears at the end; the show is sweet and about a piece of history I think has previously gone unnoticed. The cast were all amazing, particularly Ashley Stillburn as Monsieur Dufau, Lottie Henshall as Rose and Ceili O’Connor as Madame Demeziere.
At the stage door the cast were incredibly friendly and lovely, signing my programme and stopping for pictures. They thanked me for coming but I felt more of a need to thank them for their amazing performances!
Playing at the Charing Cross Theatre, The Braille Legacy is booking until 24th June 2017 and with prices at £36 for the stalls, I can’t think why someone wouldn’t want to try this show.