I’ve often wondered what the outcome of all our obsessions with smart phones and computers will have upon the future relationships of the human race. We continue to connect via internet dating, while the Japanese are developing robots that will replicate the comfort required for people to ‘feel loved’: the need to be in the same room at the same time will soon be a thing of the past. We’ll find comfort in screens that portray other humans but we won’t touch and feel them, we’ll be stimulated and encouraged to connect virtually. Whilst Blink, a new play by Phil Porter, co-presented by nabokov and Soho Theatre, doesn’t explicitly explore the 21st century relationship machine, it does suggest that soon we’ll find comfort through distance rather than through touch itself.
Blink is a quirky romantic tale of Jonah (Harry McEntire) and Sophie (Rosie Wyatt). We see their separate lives: Jonah is from a religious background and like a newborn to the world everything is unexplored, whereas Sophie, who is young and attractive but moderately isolated, prefers the comfort of her father. Sophie ends up living above her father until he passes away, while Jonah finds himself with a small fortune after his mother dies. He moves to London, and Sophie and Jonah’s lives merge in a strange course of events when a mysterious package containing a video monitor arrives through his letterbox. On the screen is Sophie, and so their closeness begins. She allows him to watch her every move and they share TV watching, eating, and household chores. They find comfort in the watching and being watched.
Porter’s Blink is full of quirky awkwardness with Jonah and Sophie seeking solitude whilst growing steadily closer to each other. They seek moments of bliss between knowing that the other is there, and when they venture out of their homes and explore London they almost come close to actually meeting. The text, littered with funny reflections on the characters’ lives and the charm but awkwardness of their relationship as it blossoms, makes your heart flutter. It makes you smile and whilst there might be some frustration towards the direction of the text (a part of me wanted their relationship to always be happy, but happiness isn’t always a given) the production is cute and loveable.
McEntire and Wyatt’s relationship is wonderful to watch unfold, and with Joe Murphy’s superb direction you’ll find quirks in the finer details. The production sets out to charm and that it does, but it also leaves a faint wavering smile as the events turn against the characters. These estranged characters find comfort in the disconnection of physical contact and interaction, and when they do eventually meet and engage with each other in person it all becomes too much. It’s as if safety is constantly found in the distance between two people, and here their loveliness can blossom, anything more than that and it all comes tumbling down.
Blink is an excellent whimsical production that makes your heart flutter and lets you laugh at the awkwardness that relationships can bring about. Porter’s text is particularly strong, and there really couldn’t have been better casting than McEntire and Wyatt. Whilst it doesn’t stick to a charming path and does explore the breakdown of a relationship just as much as the exciting beginning of one, Blink offers much to be admired. It really is a charmingly sweet and smile-inducing piece of theatre. Watch out London, it’s heading to Soho Theatre soon…
**** – 4 Stars.
Blink is playing at the Traverse Theatre until 26 August. Find out more on the Edinburgh Fringe website.