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Review: Blink

Thought Cambridge relationships were weird? You haven’t seen this play…


“If you ever get invited to dissect a rabbit’s eyeball while at the same time taking apart an old-fashioned Single Lens Reflex camera, accept the invitation.”

“Blink” at first seems quite distant and strange. It is certainly an absurd play, that is clear from the get-go. Descending down into the basement of Pembroke Foundress Court into Pembroke New Cellars feels like you are leaving the normal world behind. Perhaps that is fitting for a play where two young social misfits form a relationship that revolves more around watching each other on babysitting cameras than talking face to face.

Before the play has started we see the two actors on stage and they both remain on stage for the entirety of the play. They play the two main characters, Jonah and Sophie, as well as switching well between other minor roles. Jonah (Sameera Bowers) has been raised on a farm in rural England (a religious commune he then admits). He moves to London, and rents a flat from Sophie (Tabby MacLachlan) whose father has just passed away. She anonymously sends Jonah a baby video monitor, and from there the play tells how Jonah watches her doing her daily activities in her flat upstairs and how the relationship develops.

Image credit: Eliza Cane-Honeysett

The roles of Jonah and Sophie are quite demanding, but both actors do an excellent job and the production feels smooth and well-rehearsed. The quantity of lines to learn must have been quite daunting, in a play that has only two actors, pushes the one and an half hour mark and is quite reliant on the dialogue (perhaps monologue is a better word since they barely speak to each other!). As a result, it is well-directed by Frederick Upton and Eliza Cane-Honeysett, with an emotional range that moves from disbelief to humour to tragedy in short spaces of time.

I particularly enjoyed sequences such as their emotional retelling of a reality TV show about couples hiding their love for each other that they watch together (through the baby camera of course). There is an energy as the actors seem to bounce off each other as their characters interject to tell the part they like. Of course, Jonah is also quick to point out that “the story of us is very different from the programme”.

Image Credit: Eliza Cane-Honeysett

I particularly enjoyed sequences such as their emotional retelling of a reality TV show about couples hiding their love for each other that they watch together (through the baby camera of course). There is an energy as the actors seem to bounce off each other as their characters interject to tell the part they like. Of course, Jonah is also quick to point out that “the story of us is very different from the programme”.

Image Credit: Eliza Cane-Honeysett

Although the staging was quite simple, it worked well for the play, with its lack of a particular setting and its focus on the characters. The actors nevertheless worked well to bring the different settings to life, and whilst at times the audience had to use quite a lot of its imagination –  to imagine them in a taxi for example – this only added to the awkwardness that we are meant to feel about their personalities.

Image Credit: Eliza Cane-Honeysett

Overall, the play feels like quite an intimate experience, not least because we get to know the inner workings and thoughts of both characters quite well. Pembroke New Cellars is small but the space is used well, with the actors at one point running up and down the room around the audience. Sameera Bowers as Jonah going up to one of the audience members and talking loudly in their face in a moment of tension also got quite a few laughs. Overall, the actors seemed to get so engulfed in the action of their characters that by extension so did we. The cyclical nature of the play is both oddly cathartic but also disquieting and I left wondering – would I prefer to be the watcher or the watched in the relationship?

4/5

Blink is showing from the 24th – 28th of October at Pembroke New Cellars. Buy your tickets here.