Review by Fran Edwards

The story of Helen Keller and her incredible life, which included teaching and lecturing despite her being deaf and blind, is inspirational. This story is not just about Helen but focuses on the woman who first encouraged her to achieve, Annie Sullivan. A story not easy to translate to the stage, but sensitively handled by director Geoff Britain.

The set design by Ole Weibkin and Aliy Pehlivanides is complex but works well, allowing clear vision to the areas further back. The realism created by Tony Clancy’s scenic painting is enhanced by Richard Parkhill’s lighting. Ray Trowbridge handled the very important sound well.

A strong cast brought this tale to life, often without spoken dialogue, testing their acting skills. Jess Carroll was totally believable as Annie Sullivan, the young woman who was determined to find the spirit locked inside Helen’s silent tantrums. Henny Walters is superb as Helen, yet another demonstration of her prodigious talent.

Jenny Allen is stalwart as Helen’s mother Kate, wanting the best but hamstrung by love and pity. Brian Knott gives his usual fine performance as Captain Keller who is completely at a loss for ways to deal with this child. As James Keller, Ronan Banks portrays a son feeling displaced by a younger half-sister whom he cannot relate to.

The other parts, Therese Hornby as Viney, the servant, Jean Walker as Aunt Ev and Stanley Tuck as Mr Anagnos, from the asylum are all well cast. Luca Camozzato does a good job as Percy the young lad recruited to help Annie.

Although this play on covers a very short period in Keller’s life it gives and interesting insight into the courage and determination that was required to gain even small wins for such an afflicted pupil. A story of hope.

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