Indyish: Fringe Review: Blink Blink Blink
Many people were turned away from Blink Blink Blink last night (including my mum, but I’m not bitter). The show sold out partly due to some particularly good buzz, especially on the actual handwritten buzz notes that get pasted up on the wall at the Fringe’s open-air headquarters on Rachel and St. Laurent. That’s why I went. It also sold out because it was in a tiny theatre – a narrow third-storey loft with two rows of chairs and a couch. At first I thought what a shame, I suppose it’s very difficult to know in advance which shows will do well, and there are bigger venues that are mostly empty tonight. But actually the small venue was quite lovely for this one-woman show in the form of a motivational workshop. She was right up close to the audience but without it seeming too close or overwhelming. The stage was simply the hardwood floor, nothing raised, and the lights were equally bright throughout the space, which made sense in this format that incorporated a bit of audience participation. Even those of us who didn’t speak were sort of like extras on the stage, as we played the role of audience within the fictional workshop. And I believe that the set-up and the small venue encouraged that doubleness, which we all embarked on quite immediately, for instance in clapping as an enthusiastic group of self-helpies would when their speaker comes on stage.
This show is cute and funny. Rasmussen is an accomplished comic actor. The motivational speaker’s book, which the workshop is based on, is called Skin the Bunny: An Aggressive Approach to Claim Back Your Life. The on-stage bits are interwoven with the speaker’s off-stage life, mostly in phone calls with her sister, and the life of a character called Benjamin Bunny, who, as far as I could make out, is a character inside the book (and presumably eventually gets skinned therein) who somehow manages to transcend the pages in which he was created and become a real boy rabbit. Rasmussen is a really talented physical actor and the multiple bunny characters are pretty adorable, and quite quickly take on individual personalities (bunnialities?).
Good comedy, for me, walks a line between being outrageous (which is good) and pointlessly silly caricature. In my view, Rasmussen mostly walked this line and occasionally went over it. For instance, the character’s name, not just her stage-name but also the name she uses when she leaves a sad message on an ex-boyfriend’s answering machine, is Sara Tonin. The pun isn’t appropriated to any purpose and jars with the general ambiance of realism Rasmussen creates for the off-stage scenes. Similarly, some of the laughter and expressions of Sara went over into a kind of cliché’d let’s-all-laugh-at-how-superficial-and-fake-these-normal-people-are bit that I imagine works great in improv but didn’t add much, for me, to this (mostly) scripted piece. I realize this is personal taste, though, and not actually a flaw. Blink Blink Blink plays twice more during the festival, tonight, Saturday the 18th, at 11 and tomorrow at 3.