Mark Cajigao and Rachel Cornish
in One Thousand Blinks
(© Sara Brown)
Mark Cajigao and Rachel Cornish
in One Thousand Blinks
(© Sara Brown)
Nick Starr's new one-act play, One Thousand Blinks, now at 59E59 Theaters, is a keenly focused black comedy about the effects of insomnia on a newly engaged couple. Yet, despite its unusual situation and clever dialogue, director Malinda Sorci's production never quite accelerates to its full potential.

Morgan (Mark Cajigao) gets a job offer to go overseas to teach in an unspecified foreign country, maybe China. However, when his class gets mysteriously canceled, he's called on by one of the college's prestigious professors, Dr. Luk (Rachel Cornish), to translate her latest manuscript into English even though he doesn't speak her language. Trapped in a little room for 16 hours a day, Morgan's reality grows increasingly Kafkaesque as he begins to uncover Dr. Luk's controversial ideas.

Meanwhile, Morgan's fiancé Jenny (Estelle Bajou) is having a crisis of her own back home. Jenny is not what you'd call a peaceful sleeper. In fact, she has another personality, PJ, who comes out to play when Jenny dozes.

As it happens, PJ expresses her most primal urges, which sometimes leads her to bark like a dog and other times to have rough sex with her ex, Bram (Drew Hirshfield), a successful intellectual of sorts who regularly appears on NPR and is quite taken by PJ's violent nature even though she leaves him with some pretty nasty scars.

Sorci uses 59E59's tiny Theater C to the play's advantage, forcing the characters into tight corners, which underscores the claustrophobic atmosphere that Starr's created.

And while Starr is to be commended for not tying the show up neatly, and can create compelling characters, they unfortunately seem to run away from him just as the play reaches its climax. The ending feels rushed, leaving the audiences with many unanswered questions about Dr. Luk's research and why it's so dangerous. The little we're told is so interesting that it's a shame there isn't more there.