Java Jack’s Showcase

Sanctuary: Present Tense

Reviewed this piece already.

Jesus at Guantanamo

Ah, the *other* Jesus show in the Festival! It’s a killer premise — the combination of disparate elements that’s sure to produce *some* sort of resonance. Annnd…I’m not quite sure what to make of it yet.

It’s interesting to me to note that everyone I’ve spoken to that’s seen previews of this show are working under the assumption that the character he is playing is, in fact, Jesus — whereas my take was that he’s a crazy guy who *thinks* he’s Jesus. The show description leaves the question ambiguous (although, personally, I find the latter interpretation to be much more compelling).

Particularly since he’s developed such a mannered performance, which I again have mixed feelings about — he’s held my attention for the previews, but I can’t help thinking that his collection of twitches and facial tics would become grating over the course of a show. I also find some of his meandering, abrupt subject changes — shifting from Peter’s fear of water to an indictment of waterboarding — to be…manipulative?

Hard to say, though — I’m largely speculating. His premise is solid, and his performance has kept me engaged at the showcases I’ve seen thus far. I’m venturing a cautious interest in this one.

Sanctuary: Present Tense

So the storyteller comes out, pops on a costume piece, and proceeds to talk to us as her character. This is — hard to pull off, and usually a tough sell for me.

Her premise is interesting enough — a story told from the point of view of a kind of celestial cleaning lady — but I struggled with how artificial much of her performance seemed to me. The character she created didn’t seem to be very distinct, for one thing. Much of her piece was interactive, asking leading questions of the audience, and…I *hate* that. Either tell me a story, or actually banter easily with your crowd — don’t quiz me on something that you already know the answer to as part of some contrived effort to make me complicit in your performance.

We also had a heckler in the crowd, whose presence I actually kind of enjoyed — it was fascinating to watch how the different performers, in the different styles, responded to her. In this case, the performer allowed her to dominate, which I suspect betrays a lack of confidence — a lack of strength in her stage presence; she tried to play along with her, but was never really able to pull the performance back. Not that dealing with hecklers is ever fun — but I found it to be a telling exchange.

Witnessing To A Murder

Previews are funny things, and they’re so rarely able to accurately represent the experience of the show. Seeing multiple previews of a single show is always illuminating, too — sometimes someone just had an off-night, or chose the wrong material, and can turn my whole perception around at the next showcase. Or they’ll blow me away at one, only to reveal that they only *have* five minutes of material.

Which is why, after three previews of this piece, I’m prepared to now say, without reservation, that this is my single most anticipated show of the Festival. She’s knocked it out of the park every time. That’s not a fluke — that’s solid performance discipline, folks.

Quest

In it, won’t review it.

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