Performance showcases blind ambition

Robert Burkett / Washburn Review

Last weekend one group of local performers took their audience into the world of H.G. Wells where, “In the country of the blind, the one-eyed man would be king.”

The adage comes from a short story written by Wells and adapted for the stage by Frank Higgins. Higgins, who is a playwright from the Kansas City area and teaches at the University of Missouri-Kansas City will be attending next weekend on April 16, followed by blind members of the community attending the next day.

The play itself is a story of a young south american man named Eduardo (portrayed by Sergei Dahlman) who dreams of being in love with a girl named, Darling Delores (portrayed by Margaret Reed) all the while overcoming the prejudice and poverty he lives in, due in large part to being blind in one eye.

Using the last few pesos that he has, Eduardo enters a throwing contest in hopes of impressing Delores. Dashing Daniel(portrayed by Zach Ward) uses Eduardo’s lack of depth perception to rig the contest so that he wins it along with Delores’ affection.

The frustrated Eduardo then encounters a blind villager (portrayed by Lea Ramos) who he learns comes from a place high in the mountains where everyone is blind.

Eduardo decides his one good eye would make him better than everyone in a place so unique, so he travels up the mountain to find the Country of the Blind only to tumble down some rocks and fall unconscious into the new and strange land.

Medina (portrayed by Morgan Long) and her would-be suitor Pedro (portrayed by Matthew Miller) find Eduardo. Eduardo begins to talk about what he is seeing and stirs trouble amongst the community when he pronounces that the rocks the villagers use to do their laundry are “gold,” the pronouncement begins to set the tight-knit community on edge.

The Priestess (portrayed by Megan LaColla-Lindquist) looks upon the new visitor to the community as an “infection,” that she says must be destroyed because it could upset the order of things in the community, but the Leader (portrayed by Erika Shirrell), heeds her daughter Medina’s words to try to help Eduardo adjust to life in the community.

Eduardo learns that the town is puzzled by anyone who can see and enjoy life as their other senses heighten to adjust for their lack of sight. Thus, when Eduardo tells Medina she is beautiful, she thinks he is crazy because while the young man finds her freckled face to be fetching, she considers them a blemish because smooth skin is considered a sign of beauty in her unsighted world.

As the feelings between Eduardo and Medina begin to blossom, so does the struggle between the two as they grapple with their situation to see if one of them can survive in the other’s world.

The priestess, worried of the relationship between the two, calls Eduardo’s eyes tumors that must be removed for him to remain. He must decide whether he is willing to give up his sight for love.

During the play, one actor, Doug Goheen, acts as narrator, moving the story along and filling in gaps in the tale, which offers a commentary on how some people with disabilities are treated in society.

Jennifer Van Bruggen directs “The Country of the Blind,” and is excited about the show,

“I think this is one of the best productions we’ve put on in a while here at [Topeka Civic Theatre],” said Van Bruggen.

Also featured in the cast is Ashley Cook, Brittney Hutsell, Caitlyn Lambrecht, Jessica Moore, Timothy Price, Amber Schmidt, Miranda Smith, Greyson Waltmire and Alyssa Ward.

For more details on show times and ticket prices call Topeka Civic Theatre at 357-5211 or visit them on the Web at www.topekacivictheatre.com.