Article by Elsa Klein, photgraphy by Lara Tillotson
Blink, as directed by Louis Catliff, was a beautifully constructed reflection on love and loneliness. The play encapsulated a simple yet impossible conundrum that is all too familiar—craving companionship while also fearing intimacy.
The play follows an odd—If not completely bizarre—string of events that culminate in a singular spark of true love. Jonah (played by Joey Baker) was raised in an isolated religious commune without any access to technology. Following his mother’s dying wish, he leaves home and moves to London—into the flat downstairs from Sophie (played by Jennifer Grace), who has just lost her father and her job. Told through short, interweaving monologues, the audience can’t help but to fall in love with both characters—with Jonah’s comedic, endearing naivete and Sophie’s captivating honesty. As both characters become more and more isolated, Sophie anonymously sends Jonah a baby monitor, allowing him to see her everyday life through a screen. Through this monitor, they develop a relationship based on observation, on infatuation from afar.
There becomes a remarkable joy in this strange relationship. Jonah finds the beauty in the everyday tasks he witnesses, giving him a kind of purpose in his lonely London life. In being watched, Sophie suddenly has company, has a reason to continue performing those mundane tasks and find beauty in her own life. Though both characters remain on stage throughout the entirety of the play, they do not directly interact with one another until the very end of the show, oddly placing the audience as the communicative link between the two.
The set (Lucy Reis) was simple but effective in creating distance between Jonah and Sophie while also constantly making parallels of them on stage. Particularly clever was the use of the projector, used throughout the performance for the audience to see the baby monitor screen, as well as help tell each character’s background story through Wes Anderson-style presentation slides (projections by Minoli de Silva and Louis Catliff and incorporated sound by Oli Savage and Violet Chaudoir). The projector not only highlighted the script’s brilliant comedic voice, but also served as a kind of parallel link between the audience and the stage. Just as Jonah began to intimately understand Sophie’s life through the baby monitor screen, the audience began to intimately understand Jonah’s through the projector.
The direction fell in line with this clever use of parallels and proportions. As the script naturally bounced back and forth between Jonah and Sophie’s narratives, the characters similarly were constantly in motion together. There was a nice balance between synchronicity and independence in the actors’ movement and momentum throughout the show that fit the nature of the script well.
Both actors, Baker and Grace, performed with grace and honesty that nicely matched the tone of the play. Baker was particularly delightful to watch and truly upheld the lightness of Jonah’s character. Grace carried a slightly heavier weight and was more than believable in her performance of a bizarre, somewhat unsure Sophie.
The spirit of a performance can rarely be encapsulated in its title, but Blink was exactly as advertised—a singular “blink” of light, grace, and love between two beautiful characters. The show demonstrated a simple presentation of a complicated situation and left the audience feeling a subtle, warm sense of relief.