|Photo by Robert Catto|
Stories Like These in association with bAKEHOUSE Theatre Company presents BLINK, by Phil Porter, at the Kings Cross Theatre (KXT), Kings Cross Hotel, 9 February - 4 March.
BLINK, is a British play by Phil Porter first appearing in 2014.
Sophie (Charlotte Hazzard) brought up by her single parent, father, on his death, inherits several apartments. She had lost her job on the grounds that she lacked 'visibility' in the office. The inheritance was a relieved happenstance for her. Jonah (James Raggatt) was brought up on a religious commune in Northern England, and is rather 'unworldly'. On the death of his mother he receives an inheritance of cash that his mother had managed to accrue and with an added note urges him to run away. He does, and rents an apartment which unbeknownst to him is beneath that of his landlady who happens to be Sophie.
Both Sophie and Jonah are socially inept and when Sophie leaves an antiquated baby monitor in Jonah's apartment a 'relationship' of watching each other in an intense anonymity begins. Jonah 'twigs' that Sophie is upstairs and there begins a 'stalking' scenario through the streets of London that both become aware of, and without ever officially acknowledging each other, have a 'dating' relationship. Finally, an accident throws them into acknowledging each other, and, oddly, a physical relationship evolves and, over time, ultimately, fades.
This odd 'romance' is a kind of fairy tale between too contemporary odd-bods, lonely, on the fringes of normal behaviour. Sophie having a fear of being invisible and preferring her own company. Jonah with a personality that has obsessional tendencies, and, maybe, what we call, vernacularly today, "on the spectrum": reminiscent of the Frank Spencer (Michael Crawford) behavioural manners in that British 70's television show SOME MOTHERS DO 'AVE 'EM.
The play is whimsical and way off-centre, written so the characters narrate all of the incidents to the audience and has the two actors 'act out' any of the other characters of the play. There was for me a kind of Wes Anderson (MOONRISE KINGDOM - 2013) quirkiness to it all. Anna Gardiner has created a Design that captures a domestic 'period' of genteel poverty feel and is flexible enough to shift places conveniently, assisted by the Lighting Design of Daniel Barber.
Director, Luke Rogers has embraced this story with a great love of detail and guides his two actors into giving deeply committed performances. Both Mr Raggatt and Ms Hazzard with nicely drawn dialect (Dialect Coach, Nick Curnow) seduce us into caring about the idiosyncrasies and incidents of these eccentric characters. Mr Raggatt, especially, is entirely immersed in the life of Jonah, the subtlety of his consistent belief overriding any concern at the irritant behaviour that Jonah manifests.
BLINK, a contemporary fairytale, observant of 'outsiders' existing through co-incidence and good fortune in the harsh reality of the world most of us live in.
BLINK, an hour or so of gentle escapism. An unusual 'present' on a Sydney stage from an aptly named Independent theatre company called Stories Like These.
Stories like this, indeed - delightfully weird.