Phil Porter’s new play, a co-production between Soho Theatre and nabokov Theatre, is an intriguing two-hander about the curious relationship between couple of social misfits, Sophie and Jonah.
Rather than presenting a straightforward narrative, Porter has his cast address the audience direct, with a series of inter-connected monologues about their lonely, isolated lives.
While this pen portrait approach gives us a fascinating glimpse into the inner worlds of a two people struggling with life, grief and shyness, it has a slightly distancing effect – which could well be the writer’s intention.
Jonah is a socially awkward verging-on-the autistic-spectrum young northerner who lives in a flat above vulnerable loner Sophie, who is grieving for her recently deceased father. Via a video camera the odd couple strike up a strange relationship in which they never actually meet, until an accident throws them together into an uneasy and short-lived real-life romance.
Believable and entirely convincing performances from Lizzy Watts and Thomas Pickles are the best thing about this unusual piece of theatre. Watts is particularly good as a girl whose loneliness make her feel as though she is disappearing from her own life, and only during her brief affair with her lodger does she shed that sense of invisibility. Inevitably there are no happy endings and the pair sink back into their respective solitary grooves.
If not entirely successful, Porter’s play is always watchable and thought-provoking.
1The company behind Blink, nabokov, has its origins in Sheffield. It was set up some 12 years ago by Sheffield University drama students George Perrin and James Grieve who have since gone on to run Paines Plough, as a new writing company, putting on theatre that they would want to see themselves. Four years ago Joe Murphy took over as artistic director and has continued its dedication to new writing relevant social to current social and political themes.