Stéphanie Morin-Robert’s solo show Blindside is definitely one of the more fully developed pieces in the Ottawa Fringe Festival this year. Reigning in positive reviews from mainstream outlets like CTV and weekly newspapers like The Montreal Times, this show is finely tuned to perfection. Morin-Robert’s charming stage presence combined with such a unique and touching story makes for a truly great piece of theatre.
The piece recounts Morin-Robert’s life as a 7 year old cancer survivor who only had to sacrifice her eye in the process (a fate most of us probably feel unpleasant just thinking about). Instead of letting her disability get her down, the “feisty” child uses it as a “superpower”. A humorous ‘look’ at the ups and downs in the playwright-performer’s journey towards ultimate self-acceptance and self-expression, Blindside proves that you don’t need two eyes to have fun.
Morin-Robert’s tells her story, for the most part, using nothing more than a microphone and a spotlight, but there are also seeming transitions in between different sections of the story where Morin-Robert wanders out of the spot to turn on a camera thus causing the spectator’s eye to become drawn to a projector screen with a close up of the performer’s face. She uses these moments to seemingly confide in the audience on a much more intimate level and this provides a lovely contrast to the other sections in which she interacts with the audience quite jovially (almost like a stand-up comic).
I appreciate the integration of the camera and found the moment where Morin-Robert actually removes her glass eye to be quite visceral. However, I do agree with my fellow reviewers (NOC’s own Wes Babcock and Jessica Ruano of Just Another Gala) in that it is difficult to discern the correlation between the stylistic choice to incorporate dance and the rest of the piece itself. It just doesn’t feel as integral to the show as it currently stands and it doesn’t move one to emotion quite like the intimacy of the live video. On the whole though, Morin-Robert performs with a captivating mix of humour and vulnerability. Her comments about the Make a Wish Foundation, for example, are hilarious because of its seemingly taboo nature and so the humour becomes cathartic.
Blindside is a finely wrought piece of solo theatre that will no doubt move you with its charming stagecraft and heartwarming narrative. A worthy investment, blink and you’ll miss it.
(P.S. Can we just talk about how accurate her description of cat ownership is?! The head bonks!!)