A Poke in The Eye - a new comedy show by Georgie Morell
There is no denying that losing your sight, especially in the early stages, can be a traumatic experience. Adjusting, and developing ways to cope, is something that takes a long time and can be incredibly stressful. Nor does all your sight necessarily go at once, or go for ever - everyone's different and there's no "one size fits all" template of going blind.
And throughout it all, you still need to get on with things. Sorting out work, bills, food, learning how to get around by yourself... after all, your life isn't over. This experience is a huge learning curve, with its fair share of awkward moments and real life problems. And like all life experiences, sometimes humour pops up in the darkest places.
Georgie Morell's new one-woman comedy show, A Poke In the Eye, is based around a year in Georgie's life when she went totally blind. Georgie has had eye conditions since birth - she was born with Juvenile Chronic Arthritis, which led to Uveitis with Secondary Glaucoma. In layman's terms, the left eye is totally blind and the right eye still has sight, albeit with a lot of surgery. But there was a period before all the surgery that Georgie completely lost her sight in her right eye, and this experience forms the narrative of her show.
We were lucky enough to see Georgie in the act at one of her preview shows - she was then taking A Poke In the Eye to none other than the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. We turned up at the King's Head Theatre in Angel not sure what to expect. How can you make comedy out of something as serious as losing your sight?
As soon as Georgie bounds out onto the floor, you can see how she managed to find humour even in this dark period of her life. She gives off waves of positive energy and seems like a woman very much in control of her audience, engaging everyone so confidently you wouldn't expect she only has one good eye.
A lot of the humour comes from jokes around subjects that we all know you aren't supposed to joke about. And as she tackles such questions as “Should I fancy my doctor? And will I get a new eye that shoots lasers?” Georgie really brings home the reality of going blind through her often funny interactions with friends, family, and everyday life. It's easy to forget that there isn't a textbook on how to act when someone you love has a life-changing thing happen to them, and Georgie's script particularly shines when depicting the humanity of people's reactions, and her own less-than-angelic behaviour - something we can all relate to. There is a particular vignette involving her brother, in particular, that is fairly horrifying and gets the biggest laugh of the night.
As this is a show about being blind, the producers have incorporated few binaural elements which really help to bring it to life, although it puts pressure on Georgie with timing. Not all of these were working on the night, so we didn’t get the full effect, but hey - it’s the previews.
Georgie is lucky enough that her sight has been restored - for now. She is hugely grateful to the doctors at Moorfields Eye Hospital for even getting her to this point. But she is philosophical about the future. "I did go blind, it wasn't the end of the world, and I may go blind again." Whatever happens, you suspect Georgie Morrell will be ready to take it on.
So what’s next? Georgie recently did an interview with Robert Kirkwood, of Connect Radio, where she talks about her Edinburgh Experience so far and her journey that led to her new life as a comedian.
Georgie recently posted a vlog response to the RNIB film #HowISee. Watch Georgie’s film.