1 April 2015

WINK at Theatre503 pretended to be simple but was simply brilliant

WINK was one of those plays that reminded me just how innovative and sparkling theatre can be. This is exactly what I go to the theatre for.

The blurb introduced the two characters as "John is a 27 year old teacher who probably wasn’t allowed to teach at an all girls’ school and Mark is his 16 year old Olympic porn watching pupil." That sounded sufficiently off the wall to interest me. Theatre503 has never disappointed me, and has often delighted me, so it was an easy decision to go and see WINK.

I picked a day when I could arrange to work in London as that made the travel arrangements easier. In the end I complicated them a little by leaving work promptly (!) and going to the Saatchi Gallery in South Kensington first (walking to there from Victoria) and then walking from there to Battersea.

I arrived at the Latchmere pub in plenty of time to eat, a decent Mushroom Wellington, and have some beer before moving to the theatre's waiting area upstairs where I was early enough to get a seat at the table next to the entrance.

This clever planning failed me when a young group arrived late, positioned themselves at the front of the informal queue and then claimed the whole of the front-row. This forced me into the unfamiliar territory of the second row where I actually had a very good view of the stage, possibly better than that from the front row! This did not stop me from making loud remarks about people pushing in.

All was well once the play started.

The stage was clean white and all that ever filled it were two men. I do not recall any props being used other than mobile phones.

The story was interesting enough, the school boy looked up to his teacher as a role model and through the use of social media gradually wove his way into his teacher's life, though his wife, with  dramatic consequences.

The story was good and the way is was told was fantastic. The style was mostly narrative, that is the two men spoke directly to us to say what happened or what they were thinking. For most of the time these were solo narratives. At times the two characters came together and then the scenes were acted and we watched. I saw three plays in about a week done this way so it must be a thing.

The dialogue was crisp, bouncy and fluid. It drew me into the story with its attention to detail and realism and it kept me interested with its change of pace and mood. The scenes whizzed by seamlessly as the story gathered pace and depth. It was a great story and I liked the way that it was told.

Adding to the considerable enjoyment were a couple of nice touches in the production. There were odd sparkles of music and movement, the later consisting of the two men moving slowly dance-like around each other. It sounds corny but it worked and it worked well to capture the mood of their relationship.

In fact everything about the production worked very well indeed and that made WINK exceptional. There were lots of people making it so and chief amongst those were the two actors, Leon Williams and Sam Clemmett, who both made me care about their lives.

I already though a great deal of Theatre503 and WINK raised the standard even higher.

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