ArtsReviewTheatre

Postcard Review: Jawbone gives Calgarians hungry for live theatre something to chew on

Finally! A live theatre fix! Caroline Russell-King offers up a Postcard Review of Jawbone, currently taking place at the University of Calgary’s University Theatre.

Show: Jawbone.

Playwright(s): Megan Greeley.

Theatre: University Theatre, U of C.

Length: One act (1 hour 45 minutes, no intermission).

Genre(s): Dramatic monologue.

Premise: A young actor recounts the events that led up to her sequestering herself away to make a video audition tape for a one-way trip to Mars.

Why this play? Why now?: This one-woman show is a suitable vehicle to produce during a pandemic. 

Curiosity: The script notes that the actor is naked, but in our production, she was clothed. I wondered at one point — are we all starving? The character is at one point starved. The audience which was full of industry people is starved for theatre.  

Best moment: Just walking into a theatre after an eight-month hiatus of stage productions in Calgary.

Notable writing: This 45-minute play is one hour and 45 minutes long. It is quite poetic at times but burdened with metaphors. The exposition goes on for a long time, but the essence of the play and subsequent moral conundrum is glossed over in comparison. When she is ultimately passively rescued, the outcome is dramatically flat. 

Notable performances: The show is carried by Lara Schmitz, who thankfully is a better actor that the one she portrays. She does enliven and try to make her relatable even though the young woman in the play seems immature and a little self-involved. Schmitz also brings to life the boyfriend, the gay friend and the roommate. 

Notable design: Seasoned vet Narda McCarroll designed the lights and Tauran Wood augments the script with an intermittent soundscape. Combined, the show starts with a thriller-like “dark and stormy night” with claps of thunder, lashes of rain and waves. The effects maybe are little over the top for the vanilla-type script that follows.  

Notable direction: This is the MFA thesis project forBrittany Pack. She has the actor moving all over the stage, picking up and referencing various props. The character sits, lies, twirls and stands on the furniture, which makes it seem as if the play is moving forward when often it is just meandering about.  

One reason to see this show: If you are jonesing for a theatre fix, this can’t possibly satisfy all your cravings, but it will deliver some effect, like a slow release patch.

(Photo courtesy Tim Nguyen.)

Jawbone is showing in the University Theatre until Oct. 24. To order tickets, click here.

Caroline Russell-King is a playwright, dramaturg, and instructor. She is a member of The Playwrights Guild of Canada, the Dramatist Guild of America and the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. You can find her work here at www.carolinerussellking.com.