Theatre review: People of the eye

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A play that can be enjoyed by deaf, hard-of-hearing and general audiences, this is an innovative, warmly conveyed two-woman show that turns accessibility tools (sign language and captioning) into an integral part of the story.

Star rating: ***

Venue: Northern Stage @ Summerhall (Venue 26)

Based on real-life events, it’s performed by writer Erin Siobhan Hutching and Emily Howlett, who play two sisters, one hard-of-hearing and the other not. Set against a backdrop of computer graphics and home videos, the piece rattles through different scenes like a theatrical 1980s video arcade. From a mother trying to help her baby daughter to speak, unaware that she can’t hear her; to the two sisters dealing with childhood bullying; to the awkwardness many of us feel about “getting it wrong” talking to a deaf or hard-of-hearing person, the mix of signing and captioning with verbal dialogue breaks down language barriers with creativity and flair.

While the piece is an arts funders’ dream, the splashy filmed sequences at times feel unnecessary and the individual scenes could be developed into a bigger, more satisfying overall story.

But by the end the audience are signing “thank you” and “goodbye” to the performers: proof that the company has achieved its aim of showing there are more ways to communicate than words.

Until tomorrow. Today 1pm.