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Photo provided by Plosive Productions.

Theatre Review: Blink at The Gladstone

By Brian Carroll on April 6, 2018

1 hours, 10 minutes, with no intermission / Drama | PG

Blink is a parable for our times.

Sophie (Gabriella Gadsby) is an IT professional who is very knowledgeable about technology, but her manager’s evaluation says she “lacks visibility.” Jonah (David Whiteley) has grown up in technological and social isolation on a religious communal farm.

Their social skill deficits are not their only commonality. Each loses a parent to pancreatic cancer. Each is pushed out of their comfort zone to face the world.

They become neighbours by happenstance, but Sophie is taken by the kindness that Jonah shows to a local fox. She anonymously gives Jonah a computer tablet by which he can watch her, without knowing her whereabouts. Sophie is titillated to know that he watches her, while she feels safe in her anonymity.

‘Til one day, Jonah discovers who this mysterious woman on the tablet screen really is, and that she lives upstairs. He begins to stalk her, while feigning ignorance of her identity. She knows she’s being followed, but it rather thrills her. They attend the same events, while maintaining an aloof separation, until fate intervenes in the form of a vehicular accident that forces Jonah to tip his hand.

Photo provided by Plosive Productions.

This seems like a lead-in to a simple romance, but playwright Phil Porter knows that his characters bear the seeds of a different outcome, a different direction.

As a parable for our times, where media separate us while giving the illusion of connectedness, Blink would be merely a charming little cautionary tale, were it not for the acting of the principles. Those who know Whiteley’s work will not be surprised to see him in the role of a socially inept outsider tentatively exploring his brave new world. But all would fall flat without the Ottawa debut of director Teri Loretta-Valentik’s discovery, Gabriella Gadsby. Gadsby’s economical and subtle portrayal makes Sophie visible to the audience, and to Jonah. We, the audience, pay attention to this person to whom we would not give a second glance in real life.

Many of us know people like Sophie and Jonah. Sophie has counterparts at every large high tech firm and computer school in the country. Jonah could come from a farm in southwestern Ontario’s Amish country.

Blink is a charming enough tale, but the real reason to see this production is to see the talented Gadsby and her nuanced interaction with Ottawa veteran Whiteley. Ottawa is fortunate to have attracted such a talent to our stages.

Blink by Plosive Productions is playing at The Gladstone Theatre. Friday and Saturday April 6 to 7 at 7:30pm. Tuesday to Saturday April 10 to 14 at 7:30pm. Matinees Saturday April 7 and 14 and Sunday April 8 at 2:30pm. Adult tickets are $36 (including HST). Senior tickets are $32. Student/Artist tickets are $20.