For creatures boasting complexity with regards to reasoning, emotional intelligence, and empathy, we sure live by an oversimplified set of binaries and social constructs. While the notion of being joined hand in hand as runners in the human race is lovely, those who challenge societal parameters by living their truths face painful consequences. According to a study conducted by the Williams Institute, LGBTQIA youth make up 40% of those in need of homeless outreach services. Volunteers with such programs become a necessary listening ear to these young people, understanding the mettle of their spirits through their shared stories. Wink, a new play by Neil Koenigsburg, tells one such story with a fresh optimism.
Hollywood, CA. Dario Villanova is a washed up one-time Academy Award-winner looking to make meager money in a B-list movie. While lunching in the park one afternoon, he meets Wink, a young non-binary person living on the street. The unlikely duo become fast friends after bonding over doo-wop, and both characters are forced to confront the sadness of their pasts before moving boldly into their futures. While the characters and plot teem with potential, the pacing of the play, combined with minimal character development, stifles the storytelling. The world of the play is realistic and the narrative linear, but conflict of the piece is more confusing than harrowing. However, the conversation had by characters within the play is one worth illuminating and continuing.
After reading the playwrightʼs bio, one wonders if this modern rags-to-riches tale is in part inspired by his own past (he worked in the film industry and volunteered with LGBTQIA homeless youth); itʼs clear that Wink is an offering to his charges. Indeed, this reviewer thinks Wink is ideally suited for those involved in or seeking outreach services. After all, every child, no matter their gender or sexual orientation, deserves a happy ending.