Theatre editor, Carla van der Sluijs, reviews Blink as part of the Mermaids 100th Anniversary Weekend

With an odd yet touching tale of finding love, Blink was a wonderfully unconventional show that explored perhaps the most basic of human needs: being noticed. In this play, Sophie and Jonah find themselves lost and alone in the big city for different reasons. Hers: bereavement. His: abandoning a secluded religious sect having dug up a small fortune in his back garden (I told you it was odd!). Unable to cope with the loneliness any longer, Sophie sends a baby monitor with a screen to the downstairs apartment. As Jonah watches her every move through this device, and beyond, little do they know the shocking events that will unfold and force them to question what it really means to be seen. Directed by Louis Catliff and produced by Lara Tillotson, Blink certainly proved the amazing capabilities of student drama as Mermaids celebrated their 100th anniversary.

Although only two performers were treading the stage, Lucy Reis’ extraordinary set design meant the space never felt empty. Floor to ceiling decorations mirrored the eccentricity of the play whilst a vibrant green verge of grass nicely contrasted the performers’ beige costumes. A close attention to detail ran throughout the production and all props seemed to have sprung straight from the character’s daily lives. This extended to the technology and music, which was an absolute standout feature. Sound effects were so accurately timed that they ran across specific sections of monologue, colouring the action beautifully. Video montage merged so seamlessly into the performance that it never felt like a distraction or an ‘add-on.’ In particular, a CCTV effect powerfully heightened the show’s most suspenseful moment to produce a devastating sense of catastrophe.

Both Joseph Baker and Jennifer Grace were brilliant in their roles. Jennifer delivered a fragile and isolated persona that tugged on the heartstrings almost immediately. Joseph was equally awkward with an adorable uncertainty and ‘dorkiness.’ The actors skilfully handled the quiet yet quirky humour of the play, and as a result both past and present Mermaids alike were frequently in stitches. Multi-roling was done successfully for the most part, although some of the characters felt underplayed. A bitchy HR assistant at Sophie’s office could certainly have elicited more humour.

The general flawlessness of Blink unfortunately made occasional slips and stumbles over lines all the more obvious. However, this did not halt the beautiful character arc that we had the privilege of witnessing. Louis’ production gently ushered two people from the background of London to the foreground with raw honesty and bittersweet humour. This show was certainly a valuable asset to the 100th anniversary programme.

STARS: * * * *

Carla van der Sluijs