What You See When Your Eyes Are Closed/What You Don’t See When Your Eyes Are Open is a very strange piece of art. You are in a small room, and as you enter you are greeted by an eight-foot-tall orange Cyclops who is staring at you. Behind him, a man lays on the floor with the name “Mamoru” on his jumpsuit.
The show begins and Mamoru is on location reporting for the news about the fifty-foot Cyclops attacking the city, and like all good fringe shows there’s plenty of audience interaction too. I’ll try to refrain from saying too much about the events of the show, as I feel work of this kind is most effective when you go in completely blind, but to be honest I also don’t think I could begin to explain it clearly anyway. That’s the sort of piece this is, it’s a thought-provoking narrative that isn’t too concerned with any real storylines or plots. Mamoru, and his partner in the show Gavin, are focused on making you think.
The piece was devised and created by Gavin Pringle and Mamoru Iriguchi, with Iriguchi serving as the one the show revolves around. At risk of oversimplifying the piece, it’s about perception, how we all perceive things in different forms like movies, television , pictures, real things standing in front of you and even dreams. They play with this idea by having the Cyclops have a projector pointing out the back of his head showing what he’s seeing in front of him, with captions for the show and some added information too. The audience is now put in a position where they can choose to watch the projection and see the extra information and captions for the show or watch the performers directly in front of them and it’s those sorts of ideas and concepts it plays around with for the hour you spend with them.
On the note of captions, its definitely worth pointing out how accessible this show is. There was full audio description for the piece, full captioning as well, and it was also a relaxed performance meaning we were all welcome to come and go at any time. The accessibility was not done normally though, at one point the Cyclops vomits out the captions in a wonderfully comedic way and Mamoru then proceeds to pick up and hold them up for everyone to see. The show had this endearing absurdity to it that you couldn’t help but laugh at, it was a very pleasant experience to be a part of and it reached a real emotional depth too. There was a little peek into Mamorus childhood that was genuinely heartfelt.
Overall, a lovely experience to be had, although it is definitely not for everyone. Your mileage may vary, but if you like the sound it or just want to see something different go and see this show. You won’t regret it! What You See When Your Eyes Are Closed/What You Don’t See When Your Eyes Are Open is showing at Summerhall from August 16th – 20th, then 22nd – 27th. Get your tickets at: https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/what-you-see-when-your-eyes-are-closed-what-you-don-t-see-when-your-eyes-are-open
Reviewer: Euan Huth
Reviewed: 13th August 2023
North West End UK Rating: