Wink fascinates at Marin Theatre

Sofie (Liz Sklar) trashes the set in Wink at Marin Theatre Company thru July 7, 2019 Photo by Kevin Berne

Wink: Drama by Jen Silverman. Directed by Mike Donahue.  Marin Theatre Company, 397 Miller Ave,| Mill Valley, CA. (415) 388-5208 or WORLD PREMIER

June 13th – Sunday, July 7th, 2019

Wink fascinates at Marin Theatre. Rating: ★★★★★

Wink is a cat and it is well established that it is impossible to “own” a cat since their innate personalities would not allow it. However the person who is allowed, by the cat, to provide food and shelter can and does become emotionally attached that borders on psychiatric obsession. Those are primary premises of Jen Silverman’s “off the wall” (That quotation will be discussed later) play that exploded on the Marin Theatre’s stage on Tuesday night.

It’s not that simple in a Jen Silverman play. She prides herself on being a “queer writer” and this play that has been seven years in the making sort of proves it. She cleverly throws in Dr. Franz (Kevin R. Free) a psychiatrist who gives bad personal advice plus a husband Gregor (Sean Gallagher) and a wife Sofie (Liz Sklar) who have marital problems. Wink, the anthropomorphized cat who invests the “body” of Wink without a skin is played by scene stealing John William Watkins.

When the curtain rises and since there is no curtain, when the lights come up on the modern set there is no doubt who owns the roost since human furniture is limited with a plethora of cat paraphernalia completely lining the walls. Sofie is vacuuming the floor aggressively with her face screwed up in anger. Wink is missing and she knows that Gregor is responsible. Literally and actually all hell breaks loose and Scenic Designer, Dane Laffrey’s set is thrashed and remains that way for the remainder of the play.

Gregor admits to Dr. Franz that he has skinned Wink and buried him in the garden. He is advised to dig up Wink as a first step in controlling guilt feelings. That is bad, bad advice and the skinned Wink bounces over the back wall wearing only a brief jock strap and as any cat worth its salt usually does takes over the action allowing the others to share the stage.

Both Gregor and Sofie get their time on Dr. Frans’ couch and both receive questionable advice. When it is Wink’s turn on the couch he verbally seduces Dr. Franz and they form a “relationship.”  It is one of the hilarious scenes in the play.

Wink the cat (John William Watkins, top) surprises his therapist, Dr. Frans (Kevin R. Free), with his intimacy at the Marin Theatre Company. Photo by Kevin Berne.

Playwright Silverman is a master at creating diverse interpersonal relationships for the stage. Her two-hander The Roomate that was given a superb outing by San Francisco playhouse was a perfect example that ability. Although that play showed a quieter side of Silverman’s nature, Wink allows her to blatantly challenge the audience with obvious yet hidden philosophical reflections on what is under the skin and the problems with investing yourself in the skin of others.

The play races along at a break-neck pace and each actor has given Mike Donahue’s  intricate direction an added boost to this hilarious problematic play that earns a solid “should see” rating in 85 minutes or less. While you are absorbed with the action loaded with nuance playing out on stage there is almost perfect final scene when Sofie is ready to “climb the wall” and there is no physical wall to climb!

CAST: Kevin R. Free as Doctor Frans; Seann Gallagher as Gregor; Liz Sklar as  Sofie; *John William Watkins as Wink.

CREATIVE TEAM: Director, Mike Donahue; Scenic Designer, Dane Laffrey; Costume Designer, Dane Laffrey; Assistant Costume Designer, Katherine Nowacki; Lighting Designer, Jen Schreiver; Sound Designer, Jake Rodriguez; Fight Choreographer, Dave Maier; Production Assistant, Julia Formanek; Assistant Director, Whitney Stone; Assistant Dramaturg, Stephanie Strick; New York Casting, Kelly Gillespie.

Kedar K. Adour, MD

Courtesy of