“Wink” at the Marin Theatre Company
“Wink” at Marin Theatre Company
We have had Edward Albee with people falling in love with goats and other examples of theater of the absurd such as the gory and violent plays of Martin McDonagh and even Harold Pinter’s strange works. And this doesn’t even mention the novelist, short story writer and essayist from which Jen Silverman‘s“Wink” borrows the name of Gregor from Kafka’s “Metamorphosis” for one of her characters.
In Jen Silverman’s world premiere of “Wink” at The Marin Theatre Company, techniques, grotesqueries and weirdnesses come from these influences for sure. It is a play about a married couple Gregor (Seann Gallagher) and Sofie (Liz Sklar) who have no children but they have a cat named Wink who is the center of Sofie’s life. The set by Diane Laffrey shows Sofie’s cat love by placing several cat climbing devices and boxes of cat toys all around the spare living room. The set also serves as the doctor’s office with the couch being the important element in both scenes.
The couple is childless and their relationship revolves around this cat. They both visit the same psychiatrist Doctor Frans (another Kafka reference as Kafka’s first name was Frantz), but at separate times. We are privy to the appointments of both of them with Dr. Frans (Kevin R. Free).
Gregor reveals that he hates the cat and has skinned it but kept his fur. Was that normal he asks Frans. The doctor does the typical shrink thing of saying “um”and asks “How do you feel about that” a lot. Then it’s Sophie’s appointment. She is distraught about the missing cat. Frans suggests that she do housework to combat her depression.
The next scene is one of the funniest and over-the-top in the play (unless you compare it to McDonagh’s “The Lieutenant of Inishmore” when someone has killed the cat of the leader of the Irish National Liberation Army ). At the Berkeley Repertory in 2009 so much mayhem, violence and destruction takes place on the stage that it took the theatre crew all night afterwards to clean it up for the next show.
In “Wink” Sophie’s rage comes from the same source but here for this suburban audience there is something funny about a housewife vacuuming the living room and then destroying it in an exploding disorder.
The rest of the play turns surreal when Wink (John William Watkins) is still alive but missing his skin. and he comes to the doctor . Watkin’s catlike movements and expressions are right on and I say that as a non-cat person myself. Maybe he attended “Cats” often to observe the cats there. When he talks to Frans, the plot thickens and becomes outrageous because the characters leave their original personalities and become surprisingly “other”.
The 75 minute, intermissions play could not last longer. It has to be short and with a punch in order to keep the audience interested or at lest suspended in disbelief. It depends on surprise and defamiliarization, two elements of the theatre of the absurd of the last century. Mike Donahue’s excellent direction achieves this goal.
“Wink” runs at The Marin Theatre Company through July 7, 2019.