by Phoebe Eclair-Powell.
Theatre 503 Battersea Park Road SW11 3BW To 4 April 2015.
Tue-Sat 7.45pm Sun 5pm.
Runs: 1hr 20min No interval..
TICKETS: 020 7978 7040.
Review: Carole Woddis 12 March.
Natural ingenuity in handling virtual worlds.
One delight of reviewing is watching burgeoning talent. Playwright Phoebe Eclair-Powell (you’d be right in thinking there’s a thespian connection there) and Jamie Jackson are two names we’re going to hear a lot more from.
Interestingly, whilst she shares a similar writing chutzpah to her almost namesake Phoebe Waller Bridge, Éclair-Powell’s also reflecting an aspect of the zeitgeist.
This is the fourth play in as many months to explore the impact of the internet and social media on our world. The revival of Patrick Marber’s Closer is a reminder he got there first. In more recent months we’ve had The Nether and Teh Internet is Serious Business via the Royal Court, asking awkward questions about whither humankind now that anything is possible.
Picking up, ironically, on Barack Obama’s `we can do’ election phraseology, Eclair-Powell turns it on its head to show the kind of mess into which individuals – especially the young – can fall foul on the internet simply "because I can".
That refrain bookends Wink, as the teenage hero-worshipping Mark (a stunningly accomplished performance from Sam Clemmett following on from a memorable cameo in Emlyn Williams’ Accolade last November) ends-up swapping places with his masculine idol in the shape of school teacher, John.
To the hormone-rampant, insecure Mark, John Martin appears to have it all: insouciance, swagger and not least a girl-friend, Claire. Into porn as well as running, paintballing, Instagram, and all the other latter-day paraphernalia of social media, Mark’s yearning to be other than he is takes on, inevitably, a new online form. Mr Martin, meanwhile, tortured by his failing relationship, turns himself into Claire.
Cue another exploration into online identity-swapping and its implications. On the way, Eclair-Powell treats us to a roller-coaster of contemporary male angst. She is lubriciously funny and extraordinarily perceptive about the moments of isolation, tenderness, unhappiness and frustration of two male egos allowed to go too far because `they can’.
Beautifully played and sensitively directed – Jamie Jackson underlines the collisions of circumstance and ego between John and Mark – Wink bears all the hallmarks of a singular triumph, in an impressive debut.
John: Leon Williams.
Mark: Sam Clemmett.
Director: Jamie Jackson.
Designer: Bethany Wells.
Lighting: Aaron J. Dootson.
Sound: Max Pappenheim.
Movement: Isla Jackson-Ritchie.
Dramaturg: Graeme Thompson.
World premiere of Wink 10 March 2015 at Theatre503 Battersea London.