jill and jack take a tumble through the trrrash

Something is wrong at Jill’s mother’s house. Jill’s mother is missing. But, is she really missing or does Jill just not know where she is? Does this make Jill a terrible daughter; a horrible person, a selfish woman who abandons the person who gave her life when things are complicated and relationships are smeared with resentment and pain? When Jill is in trouble her only solution is her older brother, Jack, who will fly to Halifax from Toronto and begrudgingly seek to find the answers that lead to their mother. Trrrash’s production of Jill and Jack is the unraveling of this mystery, as well as the unraveling of a family and the mechanisms we adopt in attempt to conceal our wounds.
The play is co-written by Ian Mullan and Valmai Goggin in a crisp, vignette style which emphasizes nicely both the urgency of the mystery surrounding the mother, and the succinct relationships these characters have with one another and the world. Words are never minced, times flies, and then it is time for Jack to leave again. The dialogue suits the characters to perfection, and humor arises naturally from wry sarcasm and never seems forced. The story is immediately captivating, and although the characters are not easy to love, they evoke empathy and possess their own charms, which encourages the audience to care about their plight. I was a little unclear about the subplot with Jill’s boyfriend Chris and their neighbor Broderick. It felt as though the idea was a little underdeveloped, and that a great potential for dramatic tension and a culmination of emotion and action sort of fizzled out. Beyond that, however, I really enjoyed the story that Mullan and Goggin were telling and I think they show a great talent for playwriting and obviously work very effectively as a team.
Ryan Doucette’s direction complements the script very nicely. It is fast paced, and crisp with a dark edginess and grit to it, which exemplifies that Jill and Jack live in a world where they are continually seeking to emerge from a foundation of garbage. Jack has almost escaped, yet Jill keeps pulling him back down. Doucette uses props to great advantage; there was a particularly magical moment in the creation of the police station, which I won’t ruin for those who have yet to see the show. Doucette also used music well, as the repeated, fragmented tune that accompanied each scene change added to the puzzlement of the script and the detached recurring actions that mar these characters and their relationships.
The acting in this play is also very well executed. Ian Mullan’s Jack is very assertive and professional in his penchant to be a workaholic. He quickly becomes exasperated with Jill and it is clear that he decided long ago that detaching himself from everything was his safest chance for survival. I would have liked to see a bit more affection in Jack. It is clear that his feelings toward Jill are complex, and that is an understatement, and yet it is also obvious that he loves her and feels a certain responsibility towards her. I would have liked to see a glimmer of that shine through his cold exterior, especially in the flashback scenes. Jill, emotionally stunted and terrified of life, is played by Lisa Rose Snow, who has great ability to express Jill’s dismissive attitude as being reflective of the longing she has to connect with her brother. She makes it especially clear in the flashback sequences, if only with her eyes, how much she worships him.
We pretend to be so tightly wound, our lives so carefully packaged and concealed to reflect the semblance of normalcy. Jill and Jack allows us to rummage through the garbage of one specific moment, and expose that which is raw, dysfunctional and messy. Jill may find her mother, but what will it take for Jill to find herself?

Venue: Bus Stop Theatre (2203 Gottingen Street) $4.00

Times: Wed Sept 9 at 7:50pm, Thurs Sept 10 at 6pm, Fri Sept 11 at 6:50pm, Sat Sept 12 at 2pm, Sat Sept 12 at 9:30pm, Sun Sept 13 at 5:10pm

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