I am going to be upfront, this has been a tricky Scene It for me to write, as the play Jerry has only one actor (playing numerous characters) and the director impression of a comic book style approach was not necessarily my personal preferences when it comes to laughter inducing genres.
The production is billed as a dramady with a twist to the tale. It aims to intrigue to the degree that it will have you exiting the theatre debating what actually happened in the end… did it end… and who was that? Though in our group the degree and recollection of the extent of the debate may vary, that did happen… but let me set the scene for you first.
Briefly touching on the Jerry story line, we deal with the fallible and clearly good intentioned Jerry and his relationship with his brother Dean, the ever present but never seen love interest Annie, and then a myriad of clever interactions with the nefarious “cast” of villains and our ever present everyday hero. No spoilers, I still want you to watch the production after all!
From a comedic perspective, I personally found the text ranging from mediocre moments to tongue in cheek modern turn of phrase. Although I may not have found it all too hilarious most of the time, it was clear from audience reactions that it did hit the funny bone chuckles with others. This is however not structured as a show that will have you in full blown fits of laughter from beginning to end. There is a drama component to a dramedy after all.
Perhaps it is the mix of comedy and drama that left me slightly puzzled as to the use of comedic timing and leaving a feeling that the natural order of all things theatre had been tampered with. But one thing that it did do, was make me feel, and that is always the first hurdle to cross for any theatre production. You must at least have some type of reaction to it that makes your mind wonder without allowing it to go wondering.
As with any opening night, I tend to favour the person on stage, which as always makes me lean more towards the script and ignore the slight stage hand fumbles and little lighting glitches that will sort itself out as the play settles. Contemplating the narrative, I think the script has great potential, but may need to be ironed out a bit. The fact that this is an adaption of a multiplayer play into a compressed one man show, may be part of the challenge, but one Jeremeo le Cordeur (playing Jerry, but also writing, directing and designing) can easily meet as he allows Pizza’s Here (the original full cast version) to grow into Jerry.
Actors need to be able to bounce off of an audience which is both honest, and at the same time, able to help an actor hit his mark... Get the laugh! Make it feel real! Pull that raw and honest performance out. I think it is this growth stage where we find Jerry at now. Great potential to be a very memorable production with legs once it has reach the actor-audience comfort zone.
An endeavour like this is certainly not for the faint of heart. It's taxing, it's tiring and it's all on one person's shoulders. But that's why there are those of us who are forced to be the honest line in the sand. The ever hopeful eyes and ears which sits through a performance willing it to be great and lamenting when it doesn’t quiet hit its mark. Which for me, is what happened last night.
But before you get me wrong in my honest telling of my Jerry experience, I am definitely not telling you not to see it! Not at all, actually. Although I would want Vulture Productions to work on bettering, and tweaking Jerry, turning it into what it can so brilliantly be, I did love the overall concept of the play.
There is some very clever use of lighting in all its hues and other aspects. Very subtle use of sound bites throughout to create ambiance and to a large part lead the audience to jump to (differing) conclusions before a question is even raised. In general, good music choices were also made to accompany the “scenes”, though some hit the mark better than others.
In fact, once the script is tweaked along with these stylistic components one would already be leaning towards a complete post-modern dramedy package that Jeremeo clearly has in mind if one considers his revelations in the Spotlight piece “Jeremeo talks Jerry”.
It's so close to being a stand out piece that could have audiences leaping to their feet. I look forward to seeing how Jerry morphs into the unconventional theatre hero I know it will eventually become. Catch Jerry at the Artscape Theatre’s Arena before run ends 2 July. Grab your tickets at Computicket.