Blink by Phil Porter.
Directed and produced by Joanne Hartstone. Cabbages and Kings Collective. Noel Lothian Black Box Season. Noel Lothian Hall – Adelaide Botanic Gardens. March 4,5 and 11,12 2017. Adelaide Fringe.
Reviewed by Peter Wilkins
I have followed Joanne Hartstone’s productions for some years now and have always found the visits rewarding. The BunkerTrilogy stands out s a memorable, imaginative and excellent example of the high quality of her work. And so, it was with a degree of expectation that I ventured into Adelaide’s beautiful Botanic Gardens to attend her production of British playwright, Phil Porter’s Blink.
I was not disappointed. Blink is a gentle and charming piece about two young people, Jonah and Sophie, who coincidentally find themselves living in the same apartment block in London. Jonah (Gianluca.l. Noble) has moved to London from his country farm after the death of his mother from pancreatic cancer. He arrives wih his mother’s inheritance and Scruffilitis, his pet fox. Sophie (Lucy Brewer) is mourning the death of her father from pancreatic cancer and is looking for work after having been laid off from her hospital job. They unwittingly become involved after Jonah receives an anonymous WiFi baby monitor from Sophie.
What ensues is a voyeuristic relationship of evasion and pursuit until they finally meet on the London Eye. During the pursuit, however, Sophie is seriously injured in an accident that places her in hospital. Jonah becomes her carer, as love’s obsession grows and both face the trials and tribulations of Love’s unsmooth course.
Porter’s drama is charmingly unpretentious. It appears to have come from his own experience and his natural affinity for young love and the constant challenges of youth. His dialogue is simple, natural and appealing. There is an honesty which is quickly grasped by Noble and Brewer, who over the rehearsal period have developed an easy acting relationship. I found both young actors immensely easy to watch and to believe. Noble’s Jonah, with its north country accent is fervent, insistent and driven by his obsession for Sophie. Sophie is less forward, and somewhat wary of the course of Jonah’s attentions, but there is a need to overcome her circumstance, her loneliness and her need for companionship.
After all, as Jonah says, “Love is whatever you feel it to be.” It might be the soap opera projected upon the back of the bunk bed setting, or it might be a night under the stars o perhaps the need for someone to share your life, or simply whatever you feel it to be.
Cabbages and Kings Collective in association with Joanne Hartstone Productions have created and entertaining and appealing performance that should appeal to the young who will readily identify with Sophie and Jonah’s drama and older audiences who will remember they too lived a love of passion and obsession to escape the isolation of their world.
My only criticism of the piece is the constant revolving of the large bunk bed structure to expose the white back boarding on which to project vide footageof the soap opera, the view from the London Eye and a forest scene. An alternative solution that would not impose on the actors' delivery might be more effective. It is a minor quibble and only a passing interference of my enjoyment of a piece that I found refreshingly natural and thoroughly enjoyable.