Theatre Mirror Reviews - "Jack and Jill"

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note: entire contents copyright 1998 by Beverly Creasey

Joyous "Jack and Jill"
at New Rep

by Beverly Creasey

"Jack and Jill" is Jane Martin's hilarious take on the very serious business of romantic relationships. . The clever little two-character play begins like a well-written sitcom, then develops happily into a quirky comedy of manners, with lots of funny surprises. Borrowing from Schnitzler's "La Ronde", Martin (who's really a man; you can tell by the perspective) has his characters come full circle from love to marriage to divorce to (the possibility) of a revival.

Talk about questionable karma. Martin mismatches a schlubby but terribly sweet sad-sack of a guy with an insufferably neurotic young woman who overanalyzes everything. Their inability to listen to each other makes watching them great fun. (Being them would not be.) Martin knows his way around a sassy retort: "I'll share the housework," Jack says, sounding like an emancipated man of the '90s, "but I'll secretly hate the person who made me do it."

Four dressers appear with the actors to hand them essentials --- clothes, props, anything they might need to move from one scene to another without a scene-break. The conceit is quite amusing, as celery, condoms, or a bouquet are thrust into ready hands. Rick Lombardo directs with a deft, effervescent touch, making each scene a delight --- especially the couple's crockery crack-up.

Cate Damon manages to make Jill adorable and perky --- not an easy task given her relentless neuroses. Likewise Marc Carver imbues Jack with enough charm to counterbalance his exasperating doormat tendencies. Janie Fliegel's modular cubist set components give "Jack and Jill" a slightly cartoonish feel: you're always aware that the proceedings are hovering somewhat near, but not quite in, stark reality. Toni Bratton Elliott's costumes are hip and necessarily functional, since they're donned and doffed in front of the audience.

"Jack And Jill" (till 7 June)
54 Lincln Street, NEWTON HIGHLANDS

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide