Ginger Hibiscus | Ginger Hibiscus | REVIEW: WINK at Theatre503
Ginger Hibiscus | REVIEW: WINK at Theatre503
Ginger Hibiscus | REVIEW: WINK at Theatre503
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14 Mar REVIEW: WINK at Theatre503

We’ve all envied someone else, at one time or another. Looked at their life and longed for our own to be just like that. Be it multi-millionaire poker player Dan Bilzerian, with more guns, cars and houses to his name than some small American states, or the impossibly beautiful, talented and eloquent Natalie Portman. But often that envious eye focuses a little closer to home. On that cool-as-a-cucumber supermum who lives across the road, or, if you’re Mark, on your absolute dude of a French teacher, Mr Martin. He’s got his own house, a gorgeous girlfriend, goes on amazing holidays, and wears nice suits; who wouldn’t want to be him?

WINK Small2But the immediate question is this: how to satiate that thirst for information about him? Google him. Find him on Twitter. Facebook. Mr Martin’s Facebook privacy settings are impenetrable, but his girlfriend Claire…well, she’s way prettier to Facebook stalk, and her settings are about as strong as the biceps on a kid in Year Seven. Piece of piss…

WINK is a play so perfectly grounded in the here and now that it’d take a cultural revolution to make it feel irrelevant. Literally exhaling relatable (or should that be #relatable) contemporary references- The Daily Mash, WhatsApp, Reddit, Snapchat, and Nicki Minaj’s Anaconda to name just a few of those on the first page of the script, there’s a temptation to say it’ll age really badly. But with an author’s note specifically requesting directors update references, the ideas of online obsession and digital relationships are set to stay in the public consciousness for a long time yet to come.

Phoebe Eclair-Powell’s script – and its execution as directed by Jamie Jackson eloquently depicts that trance-like state that the online world can lead you into, that still has you browsing Buzzfeed articles on 21 dogs who made poor life choices five minutes after you should have left the house, or looking up a friend-of-a-friend-of-a-friend-of-a-sibling’s pet rabbit on Instagram at 3 o’clock in the morning. Visually engaging with an elegant set, it’s a play that looks stylish, with a mesermising combination of movement and lighting.

WINK SmallThe gorgeously loathsome Mr Martin is played by a convincing Leon Williams, a character with a swagger eclipsed only by his disdain for others. He’s a man for whom women are disposable objects of sexual desire, their value determined only by reference to porn, and for whom love and respect are ideas more alien than the thought of running around the school naked. His – and Marks’ – attitudes towards Claire are an interesting – and unexpected – facet to the play, exploring the ideas of possession and objectification, of breaking women’s bodies down into different bits to be consumed at will, and of the shocking revelation that Claire also has the ability to make her own decisions.

As teenager Mark, Sam Clemmett delivers an emotionally-charged performance that embodies the boy yearning to be a man, funny and poignant as he stumbles about, trying to grow up in the best way he can. But in between splicing together porn scenes to get his time down from T-minus two minutes, he begins to discover that sometimes if you touch your idols, the gilding that made them so alluring in the first place might just come off on your fingers.

With two (or actually, three) very familiar characters, WINK is a hilariously relatable cautionary tale that’s both relevant and engaging. Delivering outstanding writing from Phoebe Eclair-Powell, it’s a script that’s made finishing this review exceptionally tricky, as diving into the text invariably leads to half an hour lost, laughing. Slick and stylish, it is, in every way, more of a Mac than a PC.

Venue: Theatre503
Dates: 10th March – 4th April 2015
For tickets and information:
Images: Savannah Photographic

Star Rating

Ginger Hibiscus don’t like using stars as a headline; we think they’re too reductionist, and that decision-making based on stars misses the point of a review. Just as you wouldn’t judge a personality using a five-point scale, theatre is multi-dimensional. So have a read, and then look at the stars afterwards.
Okay, fine, but how many stars do you give it? Click here