Crystal Clear @ Landor Theatre, London

cast list
Mat Betteridge
Eve-Marie Akers
Camilla Simpson

directed by
Carmen Betteridge
Sometimes it takes courage to acknowledge and accept reality. Other times one has no choice but to face up to it. The latter is very much the case for Richard, the hapless protagonist in Phil Young’s award winning Crystal Clear now playing at the Landor Theatre in a new Edinburgh-bound production by the Chelsea Players.

Richard is a diabetes sufferer whose condition has started to have severe implications for both his health and his relationship with long-term girlfriend Jane. Troubled and lonely, he finds solace in the company of a beautiful blind woman, Thomasina.

Mat Betteridge gives a very strong performance in this central role. His portrayal is both tender and believable; sympathetic without being sentimental. Camilla Simpson is also excellent as Richard’s blossoming love interest, Thomasina. Her character has a wondrously calming effect on him and their relationship presents a stark contrast to that of Richard’s with his girlfriend Jane (superbly played by Eve-Marie Akers).

Jane constantly nags and pesters Richard, causing him to retreats further and further from her, to lose sight of the feelings they once shared. Yet, as the play progresses it becomes obvious that Richard isn’t able to let the poor girl go, and you start to feel greater sympathy for her character. He keeps stringing her along until she becomes an emotional wreck as a result.

The eventual demise of their relationship echoes the decline of the state of Richard’s health. As time passes Richard becomes debilitated further by his disease and must confront the harsh reality that he too is losing his sight.

Phil Young won most promising playwright at the Evening Standard theatre awards in 1983 for Crystal Clear and it’s easy to see why. It still holds up as an intense, intelligent piece of theatre about physical and emotional blindness. It’s a highly passionate and moving story and a superb choice by the inventive London company Chelsea Players for their Edinburgh showcase.

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