Theatre Mirror Reviews - "Jake's Women"

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entire contents copyright 2010 by Tony Annicone

"Jake's Women"

Reviewed by Tony Annicone

The last show of Attleboro Community Theater's 53rd Season is Neil Simon's "Jake's Women" written in 1992. This is a show where Simon makes a foray into the world of modern relationships. It takes place in the 1980's and centers on Jake, a novelist who is more successful with fiction than with life. He is a writer with a struggling marriage and faces a marital crisis by daydreaming about the women in his life, past and present. As he works to save his marriage,Jake, suffering with psychosis and seeing representations of his daughter at age 12 and 21, his late wife Julie and recently divorced wife Maggie, is dealing with the inability to write productively and must resolve these issues before he does so.The sometimes comic and moving flashbacks played in his mind are interrupted by visitations from the actual females. Jake's assorted women include Julie, a revered first wife who was killed years earlier in an automobile accident, his daughter, Molly at age 12 and age 21, Karen, his boisterous and bossy sister, Edith, an opinionated analyst, Maggie, his current wife who is on the verge of leaving Jake for another man and Sheila, a prospective third wife. Jake suffers a nervous breakdown and eventually learns you must forgive those we love before we forgive ourselves. Harriet Freidman directs this show wonderfully, mixing the comic and poignant moments together.

She blocks her performers beautifully and gives them funny bits to play during this Simon show. She also makes the mother and daughter scene into a very poignant and beautiful moment in this show. Harriet designed the gorgeous living room set while Cherry Cartier is her hard working stage manager. Jo-Ann Vaughan assistant directed the show as well as produced it. Playing the enormous role of Jake is Rene Letourneau who never leaves the stage in this two hour and fifty minute 2 act show. He delivers his many monologues and huge amount of dialogue with ease eliciting many laughs while doing so. I directed Rene in "Wait Until Dark'' for Community Players in 1998. Michele Monti plays Maggie, Jake's second wife splendidly. She is a pretty brunette who has one of the most serious roles in the show and tells Jake his problem is that as a writer he is a manipulator. Maggie argues with Jake and then suggests six month's apart breathing space. She delivers the goods in this dramatic role, having reviewed her in "The Mousetrap" and "Frame 312" . Michele also handles comic roles wonderfully having reviewed her in "Lost in Yonkers" and "The Odd Couple". One of her funny lines is when she calls Ed Koch, Mister Ed, is hilarious as she mocks Jake in the opening scene of Act 2, saying "I hope somebody else's soap is not in my soap dish which garnered many laughs while her funniest scene is when she mocks and mimics Sheila in the second act. The three biggest scene stealers in this show are Heather Buckley as Karen, Carolyn Cafarelli as Edith and Jenniffer Vaughan as Sheila. They have Simon's best one liners and make everyone of them count. Heather as Jake's sister gets to wear many wacky outfits and one of her funniest lines is that she was watching "Godfather 1, 2 and 3" when he bothered her with his phone call. Karen also gets Jake to admit that he had many affairs while he and Maggie were apart for six months. Carolyn as the analyst spouts psychological banter with sexual innuendoes and at one point intimates she is having an affair with one of her patients. One of her funniest lines is when she tells Jake their your own words I'm just moving my lips. Jennifer Vaughan, a gorgeous statuesque brunette plays Sheila, the baffled new girlfriend who becomes frightened off by his delusional behavior, because he is seeing and talking to Maggie. She only appears in this one scene but is splendid in this role. I directed Jen as Tessie in "Annie" for Curtain Call Players in 1995.The most poignant role in this show is Julie, Jake's first wife played excellently by Jackie Middler, a beautiful blonde. Her emotional moments with Rene are lovely but the scene which brings tears to your eyes is the one with Kelly McCabe as Molly at 21. Both actresses show strength in this scene.with their acting prowess and topnotch line delivery. Phoebe Perelman does a super job as the younger Molly in her scenes with. So for one of Neil Simon's clever newer shows, be sure to catch "Jake's Women".

"Jake's Women" (30 April - 16 May)
ATTLEBORO COMMUNITY THEATRE
@ Bell Street Chapel, 5 Bell Street, PROVIDENCE RI
1(508)226-8100

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