The Braille Legacy – Charing Cross Theatre

Jason Broderick as Gabriel Gauthier on left

Jason Broderick and Jack Wolfe in The Braille Legacy at the Charing Cross Theatre, London. Picture: Roy Tan

The Braille Legacy continues at the Charing Cross Theatre, London until 24 June.

Star rating: two stars ★ ★ ✩ ✩ ✩

A musical which tells the true story of the inventor of Braille initially seems worth a trip – it’s a story you expect to be inspiring and enlightening.

But despite being staged by critically-acclaimed director Thom Southerland, The Braille Legacy falls short of expectations and, at times, makes audience members want to (sadly and ironically) keep their eyes firmly shut.

The story, set in 19th century Paris, follows the teenage years of Louis Braille (Jack Wolfe), a bright young boy with a wish to be free.

We follow his time spent at the Royal Institute of Blind Youth, and, with the support of Doctor Pignier (Jérôme Pradon), his ultimate journey to lead the blind into the light.

Yet, when children begin to disappear with no explanation or warning, Braille soon realises that the battles he must face not only relate to the scrutiny of his revolutionary idea, but in people’s perceptions of the blind themselves.

Discovering the true story of how the Braille alphabet developed is undoubtedly interesting and makes for a unique topic to unfold within a dramatic setting.

The Braille Legacy, however, doesn’t do the opportunity justice and isn’t helped by a pretty dull musical score (the French language book and lyrics are by Sébastien Lancrenon, music is by Jean-Baptiste Saudray, with an English translation by Ranjit Bolt).

The show sports a fairly large cast, helping to create some impressive, spectacular scenes during the group numbers, but there is little chance for the audience to engage with any individual characters. A true flaw for a musical that should arouse a great deal of emotion in those watching.

The set also proves to be uninspiring: a rotating cube appears interesting at first glance, but there turns out to be nothing particularly original about it.

Undeniably, a strong aspect of the musical is the troupe of children within the cast, so much so that it’s a shame they are not used very much at all, at least certainly not to their full potential.

Pradon and Kate Milner-Evans, who similarly give their all, also deserve a special mention.

The Braille Legacy does put forward a positive message that ‘the blind are not unfortunates, just different’ and different is not an affliction. But the musical lacks substance, meaning anything potentially revolutionary about the show sadly falls flat.

Polly Sisley

Tickets for The Braille Legacy are available HERE.

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