A young man and woman (soon we learn their names are Jonah and Sophie) sit at separate but matching desks, gazing at the audience with confiding smiles. Jonah begins: “This is a true story, a love story, our love story; and the first thing I want to tell you is … ”
So begins Blink. Perhaps I don’t need to tell you the first thing I muttered under my breath, as I anticipated something resembling the icky rom-coms that killed Meg Ryan’s career. Happily, at least some of the time Blink turns out to be more than that, and it’s given a likeable if low-key production at Inis Nua.
This is the American premiere of Phil Porter’s play, which previously was well-received at the 2012 Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Fringe hits are often edgy and ostentatiously provocative, so one surprise here is how much of Blink is gentle and sweet. Jonah and Sophie are fundamentally ordinary, middle-class people looking for solutions to their loneliness. That, of course, is what brings them together — though, to Porter’s credit, the road is bumpier than it initially appears.
But in the end, there just isn’t enough here to make their story compelling. There are lovely moments in Blink, but the basic structure — two characters telling the audience about their lives — is closer to oral storytelling than a fully orchestrated play. It doesn’t help that their memoir-monologues are punctuated with a kind of studied quirkiness that reminded me of college application essays. (The desks, which I gather are a holdover from the original production, don’t help either: They reduce the playing space, and are a constant visual reminder of how much of Blink is pure narration.)
In the plus column, at 85 minutes, Blink doesn’t overstay its welcome, and Adam Altman (Jonah) and Clare Mahoney (Sophie) give appealing performances that help us feel invested.
Through Oct. 27, Off-Broad Street Theater, 1636 Sansom St., 215-454-9776, inisnuatheatre.org.
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