Partially sighted actress, Georgie Morrell, makes her Fringe debut this year with a one-woman comedy show that sees the funny side of her situation and is named, aptly enough, A Poke in the Eye. Ever keen to find out about new performers on the Fringe, we had some questions for her…
What’s your background for those who don’t know you?
I trained as an actor… because the world needs more of those! Then I got sick of the phone NEVER ringing so started making my own work. I got cast in comedy, when I actually got cast, more than anything else, so I wrote a comedy, A Poke in the Eye. My pal said the story of me going blind would make a great one women comedy. So A Poke in the Eye got its first outing, then got more stand up gigs, moved into improv, sketch and podcasts and now I’m on the comedy circuit!
How did you come to lose your sight?
It’s a bit of a long winded one, so here is the condensed version! I was diagnosed with arthritis at age 3 and the type of arthritis I had can cause complication with eyesight. Who knew? By 4 years old, I had uvetis and secondary glaucoma in both eyes. That means my eyes were rubbish at seeing! You keeping up? My sight began to deteriorate in my left eye and I was blind in that eye by 15 years old. My right eye decided it wanted to be like the left one and I went blind for a year when I was 21. The doctor however cocked it back, and I got most my sight back. The blindness in both eyes was due to complications brought on by glaucoma. They don’t know the cause of any of it. I just put it down to bad luck!
How did that experience crystallise into this show?
It is the whole show. That year of my life. Although it’s a part of my every day having limited vision and constant maintenance of my eyes, it is apparently an interesting story for those I have told. The whole show is based around that year. From the day I went blind, to the complications after my sight was restored.
Why not a straight autobiographical piece?
Where is the fun in that?! Disability is played on the straight a lot. I think comedy can often be a more effective way to communicate with people. Why can’t disability be told with humour? Straight work that talks about disability can be at risk of being self-pitying and encouraging a ‘sorry for’ and ‘inspiration porn’ trend which is not what I wanted. I wanted to break down this nervous approach to disability and celebrate it. I want to smash through all that, and comedy can do that!
It’s billed as a “sexy” new comedy, yet as subject matter it sounds anything but. Is there a side to sight loss I don’t know about?
Not really! Sure, blindness and sexy aren’t two words you would often hear put together, as you may not team sexy with disability either… but why not? Why can’t a show be about disability and be sexy and funny?
What will your audience learn about being partially sighted?
Nothing. Everything. You would have to ask them. The show thus far has had lots different reactions. Two spring to mind. One is a morbid curiosity, as many people’s top fear is sight loss, so they are keen to explore this. The other was from a partially sighted lady called Laura who told me she felt less alone hearing my story as she too, was in a similar position. If there is anyone feeling isolated or alone due to health, disability or personal misfortune, then I hope they see they show and can find the funny and feel less isolated.
How are you feeling about the month ahead?
Excited, slightly tired, exhilarated, prepared, unprepared, slightly aroused, terrified but most of all… determined!