The Braille Legacy at Charing Cross Theatre
This uplifting musical tells the true story of Louis Braille, the renowned inventor of the braille system. First staged in French, this translation is supported by the RNIB.
Set in 19th-century France, where blind people are socially isolated and outcast, Louis Braille (Jack Wolfe) is a bright boy studying at the Royal Institute for Blind Youth. Here, visually impaired children are educated in history, geography, science, music and mathematics despite a flawed reading system that many find difficult to understand. Convinced of the transformative power that the written word can have for blind people, Louis becomes intent on inventing a better way.
This musical does not go over the top with visual aids, the set is a simple rotating staircase structure and the cast are dressed in plain black or white. Blindness is indicated through use of a blindfold. The script and lyrics emphasise the capacity the written word has to bring light and colour to unsighted people’s lives, and to hammer the point home the children’s blindfolds are removed when they are reading braille. The cast of young actors are hard to fault – notably Jack Wolfe in the leading role and Tallulah Byrne as Catherine Lepage give incredibly polished performances.
Many will be unaware of the resistance that the braille system faced as it was considered dangerous to give people without sight a classical education. Through the telling of this side of the story, the musical explores some universal themes, specifically those of power and discrimination, whilst highlighting the struggles of an often overlooked French hero.
Although on the surface of it this is an unusual subject choice for a musical the audience will quickly realise that there is no better way to tell this tale than through music. Jean-Baptiste Saudray’s rousing score makes this production a treat that blind, visually impaired and sighted people alike will enjoy.
Tarn Rodgers Johns
Photo: Scott Rylander
The Braille Legacy is at Charing Cross Theatre from 10th April until 24th June 2017. Book your tickets here.
Watch the game-like promo for The Braille Legacy here: