Theatre review: People of the eye

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.

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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.