Regional Reviews: San Francisco/North Bay
In Jen Silverman's play, also called Wink, now its world premiere production at Marin Theatre Company, everything and everyone is decidedly off-kilter, yet for the most part, no one treats the strange goings-on as anything out of the ordinary. When Sofie, in a fit of grief, virtually destroys the house where she and Gregor live (nicely designed by Dane Laffrey to look like it was furnished entirely from Living Spaces and Petco), overturning furniture and flinging boxes full of cat toys (and worse) everywhere, it's left that way for the rest of the play, and is never commented upon. They all just soldier on, ignoring the detritus and destruction.
Sofie and Gregor (played by Liz Sklar and Seann Gallagher, respectively) have a relationship that is just as messy, which is why both individually visit the same therapist, Dr. Frans (Kevin R. Free, in a show-stealing performance). This is generally frowned upon by the psychiatric community, but not as frowned upon as the rest of his treatment approach, which sometimes consists of suggesting to his clients that, when a difficult or challenging emotion arises, they should "slam it down!," or blithely repeating how "normal" Sofie's and Gregor's behaviors and innermost thoughts areeven when they are decidedly not. Kevin R. Free has a marvelous time with this role. Although his character is the quietest and most reserved, he plays it perfectly, with slow burns that build comic tension and an air of confident cluelessness.
Without spoiling one of the show's best surprises, John William Watkins appears as a fourth character with a physicality and attitude that matches the role Silverman has written beautifully.
Wink is the winner of Marin Theatre's 2018 Sky Cooper New American Play Prize, and it's bursting with dark humor and a furious insight into the ways we humans relate to each other. It also has something to say about how we don't relate to each other, but instead pursue our own interests, our own desires, and our own kinks, even at the cost of our relationshipsor our own sanity. Wink is confusing at times, with a vaguely unsatisfying conclusion, but there's so much humor and creativity on display here, you owe it to yourself to be among the first to experience the world Jen Silverman and the team at Marin Theatre Company have put on stage for you.
Wink, through July 7, 2019, at Marin Theatre Company, 397 Miller Avenue, Mill Valley CA. Performances are Tuesdays-Sundays at 7:30pm, with matinees Saturdays and Sundays at 2:00pm. There is an additional "Perspectives" matinee on May 9 at 1:00pm. Tickets range from $25-$70, and are available at www.marintheatre.org, or by calling the box office at 415-388-5208.