Review: The Braille Legacy at Charing Cross Theatre
Jack Wolfe’s Louis will win hearts in this moving story
28 April, 2017 — By Howard Loxton
The Braille Legacy is the story of the struggle for equality for blind people. Photo: Scott Rylander
Louis Braille is a clever lad and a quick learner, blinded by an accident at three. At the Royal Institution for Blind Youth where he is a pupil, Dr Pignier is devoted to his charges, but there are just a few books with large raised letters, hard and slow to read.
Along comes Captain Barbier with a code of raised dots he devised for passing messages in the dark in the army. Too difficult for soldiers, Louis develops it into a system that was to help change life for blind people.
The play tells the story of the struggle to get other people – and the French Parliament – to treat the blind as deserving equal opportunity and challenge the prejudice that sees 12-year-old talent as insubordination.
It’s a moving story that is well-worth telling and Jean-Baptiste Saudray’s score is pleasantly tuneful and sometimes lush and dramatic in a Les Mis manner. Sébastien Lancrenon’s book and lyrics in Ranjit Bolt’s translation feel contrived, the dialogue often stilted.
Jérôme Pradon is a passionate Pignier, Michael Remick a Capt Barbier whose compassion overcomes his military manner and Jason Broderick makes his mark as Louis’ school enemy turned friend but it is Jack Wolfe’s Louis who will win hearts with a clear voice and boy-band charm making his professional debut.
Thom Southerland, who directed Titanic, Ragtime and Grey Gardens with such flair seems to make up for a lack of dance numbers and physical action by pointlessly spinning his the set around but it’s a show with its heart in the right place and another chorus of talented juvenile performers to join those in so many West End shows.
UNTIL JUNE 24
Audio-described performances on May 27 and 29