REVIEW: Blink | The Kabuki Drop
Review by Susie Conte
A white room. Mood lighting. A woman in yellow tights wandering lost through the space. Mellow music. The world of Blink is set.
Melissa Cantwell, the former artistic director of Perth Theatre Company, formed The Kabuki Drop as a means of telling stories in diverse spaces. Commissioned by the City of Perth to transform the former Australian Writers Guild venue on William St into a theatrical space, this play by British playwright Phil Porter is an interesting choice. Written for the Soho Theatre in London and selling out in Edinburgh, this WA premiere of a dysfunctional love story is darkly funny and off-the-wall.
Blink follows two outsiders who cross paths and become lovers. Andrea Gibbs and Sean Walsh play Sophie and Jonah, the two misfits who ‘meet’ in unconventional circumstances. It’s hard to give too much away but it involves surveillance and quasi-stalker-ish behaviour.
Gibbs and Walsh play the characters with sweet, wide-eyed innocence and borderline childlike behaviour. They are lost souls. The first half of Blink begins with Sophie and Jonah telling us about their difficult childhoods and how they get to know each other. What feels like the beginning of a rom-com turns darker. Paralleling a soap opera they watch on TV together, the stars do not quite align for the characters, even though we root for them to.
The design by Bruce McKinven is beautifully considered. The space has been transformed from old dark offices to a pure white palette, white cardboard covering the floors and white furniture and props, with accents of colour – a green apple, a red suitcase, Sophie’s yellow tights, a bible with red binding. The nature of the space means the lighting design had to get inventive, and Matthew Marshall‘s design was clever, using torches, lamps, fluorescent lighting, spotlights and LED strip lighting. The show was beautiful to look at and spend time in.
You will laugh out loud as the script is very dark and funny. Gibbs and Walsh are great comedic actors and it all falls on them to make the play work. Gibbs has exquisite comedic timing and Walsh has a great charm as he tells a story with wide-eyed innocence. Cantwell directs with a sure hand and creates a piece of theatre that will keep you on your toes and fall in love with a mangy possum called Scruffalitis. There are a few odd beats to it. After a strong start, the middle of the play seems to go slowly, but luckily returns to form at the end. This feels like a script issue rather than the fault of the production, and the audience left enchanted with a quiet story of Sophie and Jonah.