BlinkFrank Martin

A play performed with only two people, individually beginning in solo monologues that gradually come to overlap before ending in exchange and conversation, Blink is the story of two seemingly opposite people whose changes and misfortunes in fate bring them into the same city and even the same block of flats, as Sophie chooses to let her lower rooms to Jonah.

It is a love story, but very unconventional: wordless and bordering on darkness, it offers the audience a chance to glimpse into the lives of a couple who are afraid to live ‘too visibly’, afraid of falling in love, preferring to watch the world from a distance and love through a small ‘flannel-sized’ screen. Taking you through twists and turns, Jonah and Sophie’s love story engages the audience in a strange fascination, giving mixed emotions of happy satisfaction, but also the underlying unease of ensuing and inevitable sadness…

The setting and production management for this play was superb. Very cleverly crafted, the simple design of the Corpus Playhouse became simultaneously two apartments with well-mapped mirroring and paralleling, making the set visible from all angles. Set changes – involving hospital scenes, tube journeys, and museum outings – were very deftly handled by the actors. Quick, concise and with no time-wasting at all, they became part of the action too. Just as efficiently handled was the change of costume – all on stage – as characters moved effortlessly from role to role.

The acting in this was absolutely outstanding, both Dolores Carbonari (Sophie) and Joe Pitts (Jonah) passed from their original characters – a mourning fatherless, job-less and ‘less than visible’ girl, and a lonely, isolated young boy – to flamboyant secretaries, German artists, doctors and many more. Despite a few pauses for clothing arrangement and costume adjustment, the overall ease with which they were able to manipulate each persona and yet still remain believable, offering a new character before returning with the same admirable flexibility to their original roles, was definitely to be commended.

An interesting feature of this production was the use of screens. Backdrops of images set the scene for specific locations. Moreover, pre-filmed clips appeared on the walls and echoed key moments of the action and magnified it onto the walls in large projection for the audience. Not only did this accentuate the single act – occurring simultaneously on-stage – and give it a greater and reinforced emphasis, but it also linked beautifully into the theme of living life on and through a screen.

The play opened with an allegorical explanation of the difference between a camera lens and a real eye, instantly capturing the attention with its startling detail and accuracy that provoked thought into the association. This was subsequently a theme manipulated well throughout the play and one that directors managed to keep consistent through use of screens, watching, observing and acting. Not only was one screen imminently present – Sophie’s screen – and the other intermittently appearing – the visual wall projections – but other scenes of TV episodes were woven into the plotline. I found this particularly amusing as Sophie and Jonah recounted the life stories of soap stars, not only for its mimetic ironic attributes but also due to my personal ability to relate to the very episodes of the drama/TV series that they were recounting; I was certainly their target audience.

There were many other comic elements interweaving the play, giving occasional laughs to the audience: comic interludes, jokes, misunderstandings, eccentric gestures and wittily ironic remarks. These all served to lighten the atmosphere of what is, essentially, quite a dark love story. But it is, essentially, a love story: ‘a true love story’, as it is introduced to be in its opening words. It is truthfully played out upon the stage with believable characters and seamless set-changes, leaving you with the sense that if you do ‘play safe’ and live your life ‘only half visible’ or through the medium of a screen, you might just blink and miss the true value of life

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