This was the first time I had seen a show from the RWCMD’s Richard Burton Company and it proved to be a performance that would hit emotionally hard with its themes of loss and heartbreak.
In Blindsided, first performed at the Royal Exchange in Manchester back in 2014 , we are invited into the world of the vulnerable but enchanting Cathy and her life changing encounter with John Connolly a street wise newcomer to Stockport who rocks Cathy’s world upside down and brings excitement to life as she has known it.
John to Cathy is everything she’s not and everything she thinks people are supposed to be to succeed in life. He is well dressed, a trainee accountant and uses big words to try to divert attention from the reality that underneath his impressive exterior he is an angry, manipulate and degenerate young man.
Their union sends shockwaves to Cathy’s mother Susan, played with tenacity and strength by Rhian Blundell who is sure John is a wrong-un and has similar womanising traits like Cathy’s dad. After the discovery of infidelity, we see one of the future stars of tomorrow, Kristy Philipps embark on Cathy’s rollercoaster of compelling emotions ranging from anguish to desperation in a matter of minutes that was truly breath-taking and palpitating with anticipation of her next move. Scenes between Cathy and mother Susan produced tense moments of anger and bitterness; Blundell really shone here with her uncontrollable emotions cascading out at Cathy. It was wonderful to see Philipps live and breathe this naive, beautifully flawed and ultimately destructive broken character of Cathy in a captivating way.
The political significance of 1979 and 1997 in landslide victories for Thatcher and Blair set the tone of the life altering changes and decisions that are made in Blindsided also reflecting the political changes of those years. This story is extremely relevant in 2016; are we on the verge of a revolution and anarchy breaking out in light of recent political events? That remains to be seen but just like 1979 and 1997 the political climate has been radically altered which will undoubtedly ripple through to personal life stories just like Cathy and John.
I had a very clear moment of nostalgia in the time jump in Act 2 to 1997; it took me back to being a 7-year-old witnessing the awe of Tony Blair in his Labour landslide believing that change was going to come. It was great to hear that the same sentiments and thoughts were fruitful in 1979 of hope and a future for the better that Thatcher promised despite what actually came to pass. I was encouraged to see political hope weaved into the minds of Cathy and John just like what happened to me in 1997. I wonder if the incredible political changes in 2016 will have the same effect on the next generation to come.
Performances in Blindsided is what the power of theatre is all about; making you think, enthralling you like a drug for those mere few hours and having you on the edge of seat.
I encourage those who have become somewhat let down or disappointed in theatre shows of late to go and see the remarkable Blindsided and shows like it at RWCMD; they are producing outstanding talent and shows to be proud of.