Blink of an I

Sat 18th – Sun 26th August 2018

reviews

Sally Christmas

at 16:32 on 20th Aug 2018

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Part of the Free Fringe, 'Blink of an I' is a captivating debut that combines spoken word pieces with puppetry to explore the way we view the strangers in our lives. An interesting concept and a well executed show, this is something worth looking out for.

With a cast of four and little in the way of set, Blink of an I gave us a stripped-down performance that relied purely on the strength of its actors. Fortunately, every one of them delivered. A monologue about catching someone’s eye as you pass through an unknown town was strikingly well done, and voiced thoughts that have crossed all of our minds from time to time. Thanks to its near perfect timing, a scene pulling apart lonely-hearts column was both poignant and funny, and throughout the show, the actors’ use of physicality was creative and effective.

The small venue suits the piece, and the atmosphere in the room was palpable. Every line was well delivered, and the script was clearly well thought out – a show made from a number of standalone scenes always risks feeling disjointed, but Blink of an I flowed beautifully from one to another. From a surprise at the start to an unusual ending, the performance set an intriguing tone and kept our attention brilliantly.

From the description of the show, I had expected more in the way of puppetry, but what was there was done well. The puppets themselves were both charming and a little bit creepy, perfectly capturing the mood of the piece. Some moments were slightly confusing; at one point, an actor removed her shoes and draped her socks over the head of the puppet, which was odd. But, for the most part, the use of the puppets was understated enough to work seamlessly with the performance.

The piece was let down slightly by a lack of direction. As the performance drew to a close, I was expecting it to deliver some profound final message, and when it didn’t I was disappointed. The piece could have been really elevated by having more of a purpose; at times, the concepts got lost, and I wasn’t sure exactly what I was supposed to be taking away from the experience. But, the talent was there, and with a bit of reworking the show could have been something absolutely amazing.

'Blink of an I' brings the kind of theatre this festival thrives on. With a very strong cast and a lot of unique ideas, I think this will be a company to watch in years to come.

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Lauren James

at 07:36 on 21st Aug 2018

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Donkey Nights’ ‘Blink of an I’ is a convenient 45-minute refuge to escape from the chaos of the Royal Mile.

The show sets out to explore the concept of strangers through spoken word, puppetry and mime; apposite in our increasingly isolationist society. At times, they achieve this to effect, challenging the audience’s approach to prejudice and preconceptions when encountering someone for the first time. However, the actors struggle for flow throughout with the result being that certain sequences are notably stronger than others. Humour was, for example, used to effect when performers read out guidelines and cautions with regards to ‘stranger danger’. However, the themes of the piece were lost, quite literally, in the boat sequence given that the audience struggled to see, and therefore process, the script’s underlying message.

This said, The Waverley’s intimacy provides the perfect venue for the actors to fully engage with the performance’s message, given the often uncomfortably close proximity to unknown faces. One of the highlights of ‘Blink of an I’ was when a performer began by being dispersed into the audience, looking into our eyes and directly challenging us as to their natural reactions and assumptions to her as a person. It is this willingness to engage and evident passion for the subject matter which is the underlying strength of ‘Blink of an I’.

In terms of staging, the four actors used the bench deftly, helping to mark scene changes as well as support the dialogue. The puppetry of ‘Blink of an I’ was also particularly strong; their sunken eyes and bald heads adding to the facelessness of the drama to the extent that it was a shame they were not engaged with further.

‘Blink of an I’ is a subtle interpretative piece which tackles a disturbingly contemporary theme with certain success. For those seeking to leave a performance with more questions than they arrived with, it is not be missed.

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