Jamie MacDonald is oblivious to a lot of things, not least because of his impaired vision. This is the premise of a well-crafted hour of storytelling and stand-up, performed in front of a receptive crowd. The majority of the set is a fascinating multi-sensory glimpse into the life of a blind man, and the challenges he faces on a daily basis – coping with curious children and crazy bus people. But threaded through the material are MacDonald's musings on, as he sees it, the modern obsession with creating an inclusive society.
Convinced the latter was triggered by the 2012 Paralympics, MacDonald is grateful how far the world has come, but wonders how far this concept of inclusion can go. Is society's insistence that there must be a disabled alternative to everything really a good idea? These are interesting and relevant points, which would be uncomfortable coming from a comedian without personal experience to draw on. It's a fine example of MacDonald using his USP to his advantage, as he challenges his largely able-bodied crowd to laugh along at the absurdities of his forays into disability sports such as blind football and blind shooting.
MacDonald is nonetheless clearly encouraged by how far society has swung in favour of the physically different, since his time at high school, where he was made to feel like an outsider. He strikes you a man who just wants to get along; a comedian who just happens to be blind. He may get to a stage in his comedy career where he doesn't even have to address, as it were, the elephant in the room. But maybe in saying that, I am succumbing to his point about over-inclusiveness; his stories will always have a fresh perspective, even when he's just talking about drinking in grotty local Glaswegian pubs, thanks to the extra details of smells and sounds he notices that others miss.
He wields his sole prop – his white stick – like a paintbrush to form images, and uses audio prompts for added effect. That's something I feel he could push even more, to place his audience in the shoes of a blind person. His simple yet effective demonstration of what it's like to be blind in an art gallery is poignant, and highlights how alienating basic pleasures can be when the rest of society takes them for granted.
In the end, MacDonald does reveal a vulnerable side – one that relies on society's compassion, even if it is overbearing and contrived. But as a performer, he is able to embrace all this and turn it on its head, through his naturally funny and endearing comedy.