'Crystal Clear'

Anthony Allen
Philomena McDonagh
and Diana Barrett

Directed by Phil Young
Costumes designed by Nadya Cohen
Set designed by David Burrows
Lighting designed by Mick Hughes

Wyndhams, London 1983

This show transferred to the West End from the Old Red Lion in Islington. It was devised by the company of three actors and director Phil Young, using a process very similar to that developed by Mike Leigh (Phil Young had worked closely with Mike Leigh some years before). The original designer at the Old Red Lion (and designer of the costumes for the Wyndhams production) was Nadya Cohen, a former student of mine, who has since returned to her native South Africa and work in the theatre there.

The West End production was produced by Robert Fox.

A harrowing tale of a man's developing blindness following the onset of diabetes. Essentially a love story, the show charts the developing relationship of the central character with a blind woman as he himself goes blind. The show ran for an hour and twenty minutes without an interval. Its powerfully moving climax where the two blind lovers cling to each other in the darkening room, vowing their love for each other, regularly sent large numbers of the audience away in tears. Crystal Clear came a couple of years after the highly acclaimed Children of a Lesser God (the American play which focused on deafness) and, coincidentally, the two shows ran simultaneously for a while in adjacent West End theatres.

Because of its improvised origins and its reliance on the blind actor's stumbling around a meticulously defined apartment the setting was of necessity very naturalistic. My principal task was to retain the sense of claustrophobic intimacy of the Old Red Lion in a 700 seat Edwardian proscenium theatre. The deep green walls of the set related closely to the predominantly green auditorium, and the set's cream Victorian style cornice continued the line of the dress circle to create a completed 'circle'.


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