The Print Works, Manchester

Blinded by the Light
has an unusual plot, focussed on a group of photo journalists standing outside the home of a celebrity who has been charged with aggravated sexual assault against a 15-year-old girl.

The play, by Karl Voden,  aims to establish what the balance should be between public exposure and professional abuse of power.  

It does have flaws, however. Why does it take nearly 20 minutes to establish the names of the two main characters? Surely the audience should be able to identify who’s who almost immediately. Also, an hour seems an awfully long time to listen to the banter of these hardened paparazzi.

Nevertheless, they do have interesting tales to tell about exploits in the past.  These illustrate how completely unscrupulous the 'paps' are and their lack of compassion for their subjects. It is not until a journalist from a BBC Digital Channel making a programme about the issue of  press exposure tries to interview one of them that a hint of shame is shown. This is especially so when the woman, Anna (Emily Barlow), explains how her own father, a vicar, had been exploited by the press.

Although not particularly to my taste, Blinded by the Light does raise some interesting issues and certainly left me contemplating the power of the press.

- Julia Taylor