BWW Review: WINK - Not To be Believed
WINK/by Neil Koenigsberg/directed by Michael Allen Angel/Zephyr Theatre/thru January 13, 2019
Playwright Neil Koenigsberg, a founder/partner of PMK PR, must have experienced some pretty outrageous incidents in his tenure at PMK, as well as, in his stints as talent manager and film producer. Koenigsberg has taken probably one of his most far-fetched scenarios to base WINK on. Koenigsberg's pivotal character Dario Villanova, a past Oscar winner, now debates whether or not to accept a role in a B-list horror film with a script he hates, but with a million dollar offer to sign on. In between acting roles (a long in-between), Dario volunteers at the Replenish homeless shelter. There, Dario meets a young, non-binary denizen of Replenish named Wink. Dario promptly acts to take Wink under his wing and, subsequently plans to donate his million paycheck from the movie (he's now accepting) to Replenish.
Dario's agent Peter King, originally very persistent in getting Dario to accept the far-from-Oscar-baiting role, now questions the motivation behind the sudden million dollar donation, and the mere appearance of, let alone whatever actual mysterious relationship between, his past-middle-aged client and the homeless youth of indeterminable age.
Andrik Ochoa, totally at ease and comfortable on stage, plays the non-binary Wink as a total innocent with no bad attributes whatsoever. Hard to decipher just how old Wink is supposed to be as Ochoa acts with such wide-eyed youthful exuberance and zero street smarts. Hard to believe Wink's suspicion-free optimism from one who's had to spend some, if not a majority, of their time homeless on the street. Ochoa does have an eleventh hour line that reveals the maturity beyond his age.
Euriamis Losada essays Manuel Ortiz, a representative of Replenish, available to protect Wink, especially when informed Wink's the reason behind the million dollar donation to Replenish. Manuel coincidentally has an unfortunate past with Peter. In high school, jock Peter bullied and beat up Manuel. At present, Manuel and Peter must work together, along with budding publicist Valerie Smith, to handle the upcoming press conference announcing the million dollar donation.
The rest of the cast attack their roles with much intensity. David Mingrino imbues his Dario with great introspection and gravitas. Adam Cardon's passionate as Peter, the devoted, conflicted agent. Amy Argyle's precise as the ambitious, excessively fussy publicist Valerie.
Kudos to all the cast of five for their complete commitment to the roles.
Katrina Pagsolingan deserves much recognition for her projection design of the visuals of Dario's mansion, the stylized Hollywood sign and the various artwork of Wink. At pivotal moments of Dario's exposition, Pagsolingan's effective water projections pair well with sound designer Jesse Mandapat's swimming pool sounds. Michael Allen Angel directs this West Coast premiere encompassing social concerns of sexual identity, bullying, dual male fertilization, homelessness, class privilege, suicide, guilt, selling out and extortion.