Wednesday, June 19, 2019

"Wink" ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ BANG

Let's not beat around the bush: Jen Silverman's "Wink" is one of the most engaging plays I've ever seen. Wink is a cat, played by a muscly actor (John William Watkins) in the skimpiest of loin cloths. (Clearly, this cat has never been neutered.) He is beloved by his owner, Sophie (Liz Sklar), a frustrated stay-at-home housewife, and despised by Liz's husband Gregor (Seann Gallagher). Kevin R. Free plays Dr. Frans, a shrink who is counseling not only Liz and Gregor but the cat, Wink.  What happens next is audacious, innovative, completely surprising and jaw-dropping.

At one point Gregor strips off his clothing to reveal -- well, that was one of the longest, deepest, choking belly laughs I've heard in years in the theater.

The scene were Wink and the Shrink are both on the floor, facing each other on their knees, moving in for the inevitable kiss, closer, closer -- is a tour de force. Director Mike Donahue lets nature take its slow and steady course and the result is purringly beautiful.

At the curtain, the actors take their bows at the front of a stage littered with strewn cat toys and busted-in walls, from Sophie's remarkable stage-destruction scene at the beginning.

To think she gets to do this eight times a week!

Each actor has a shining moment: Jen's set destruction, Gregor's soliloquy which takes his life backwards in five year intervals, The Doctor's realization that love comes when we do not expect it, and, of course, Wink's reaction to humans, followed by his understanding about the irreversability of fate.

Do not look for spectacular reviews. If you are trying to tie A to B to C, you aren't going to get anywhere. Silverman's point is that we all eventually return to our true natures. We can't avoid it and no stage can hold us in.

Please. Do not Miss "Wink."

RATINGS ☼  ☼  ☼  ☼ BANG

We want to give "Wink" Five Stars, but there is no music. So The San Francisco Theater Blog Awards Division, at my insistence, grants "Wink" Four Stars with a BANGLE of PRAISE. The outrageous story, direction, acting and set each earn one star. The BANGLE is for Roland, the Terrorist, who exists inside all of us, just waiting to target us, track us and then pounce. He'll play with us a little bit first, but then we're done.

Marin Theatre Company
397 Miller Avenue, Mill Valley
Through July 7

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