It’s odd to talk about this play because it is fundamentally very odd. Blink is, for better or for worse, a Wes Anderson movie taken to the stage. There’s an attention to detail here that reminds me of that director’s work, not to mention a lot of music ripped straight from Fantastic Mr. Fox and Moonrise Kingdom. Its tone is, for lack of a better word, decidedly quirky, reveling in its weirdness with a smile and a wink. But with all that entertaining goofiness, the show doesn’t let us sit with its heart enough to leave a major impact on the audience.
Jonah and Sophie are two strangers brought together by odd twists of fate. They live in the same building, with one living over the other. Sophie is a woman trying to make herself stand out in the wake of her father’s passing, and Jonah is an escapee from a religious farm up in the north just there to see what the world is like. It’s, as it claims to be, a love story, but a very odd one, as the two don’t even speak to each other until the last ten minutes of the play. But there’s a warmth and a tenderness in Blink that doesn’t exist in most plays. You can tell, without a shadow of a doubt, that these characters care for each other, and that the world they live in cares about them too.
This romantic sentiment is bolstered by the production and the performances. The set, while not lavish, was comfortably furnished, with hanging fixtures and an inviting grass lawn distinguishing it from the average Barron show. This was combined with lighting techniques to show the actual progression of scenes to each of the play’s myriad settings. I would be remiss not to mention the projections, a staple of Louis Catliff, which upheld the whimsy or seriousness of whichever scene they were a part of. As a two-hander, the quality of the actors is paramount, and Blink does not fail to deliver. Jen Grace excelled in her role as Sophie, bringing a sense of melancholy to a character who struggles to find her sense of self, and brought a lot of necessary humor to the character as well. Joey Baker brought an incredible amount of humor to his role as Jonah, with a doe-eyed naiveté and awkward physicality that resembled a very scruffy puppy. Both actors engaged in a degree of character acting, with Jen particularly standing out here.
The problem with Blink is that for all its charm and its impressiveness, it has no real impact. While the script is about people dealing with loneliness, that loneliness never feels real, just like a light plot device to keep the cute romance moving forward. The lack of that vital emotion pervades the entire show, and despite its technical excellence, it’s missing the one thing that can make a show exceptional. Without that core, the story never feels as if it means anything. That’s the struggle I see in Blink- stylish and entertaining, but without the substance that could take it to being something more.