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Review: Libby’s Eyes

June 22, 2018

Libby”s Eyes is a play that, in many ways, tells the story of my life as a disabled person. It is set in a world where disability rights campaigning meets science fiction.

Libby (Georgie Morrell) is a girl whose eyes don’t work the way they ‘should.’ But she is independent and passionate about her job and her “normal” life. So one of the highlights of the play comes when she discusses the meaning of ‘should’ and says that ‘should’ doesn’t make something right.

The government in Libby’s world has divided people into two groups- ‘functioning’ and ‘non functioning.’ Non functioning people are not considered legal people. They lose their rights to disability benefits, healthcare and education. Libby’s father, who shares her condition, registers as non functioning and loses his guide dog. At one point in the play, he is even referred to as ‘it.’

Libby’s Eyes is a machine given to her by the government to assist her, since she is functioning. It looks like a Discman- for those old enough to remember a Discman, says the play’s hilarious audio describer, Louise Kempton,- but definitely isn’t a Discman. It is a robot with artificial intelligence. At first, Libby refers to it as Libby’s Eyes, but later, this changes to L.E.

As Libby gets used to L.E and likes “her” “she” begins to give “her” opinions on Libby’s life. But the government consider this a ‘defect’ of L.E. When this ‘defect’ is discovered by the government, they try to take L.E away from Libby in a tribunal.

This is when the audience hears two very passionate speeches- one from Libby’s mother about Libby’s life, and another from L.E. Surprisingly, L.E tells Libby that it is Libby’s personality that gave “her” emotional intelligence.

The play ends on Libby’s own terms- something that will surprise no one who comes to know this character.

Anyone drawing parallels between Libby’s Government and the current UK Department for Work and Pensions wouldn’t be far wrong. Playwright Amy Bethan Evans writes in the play’s programme that she dedicates the play to anyone who has been through the PIP process, or has supported someone who has.

I highly recommend this play to anyone who understands disability issues. Such an audience will laugh out loud in some parts and be moved to tears by others.

It is certainly a production that will stay with me for a long time.

Libby’s Eyes is at the Bunker Theatre on Mondays and Thursdays until 7 July.

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