Jitters

Tue 26th – Sat 30th November 2013

reviews

Diana Paulding

at 00:10 on 27th Nov 2013

1agrees

0disagrees

As we walk into the studio theatre of Corpus Playroom, our eyes immediately alight upon a figure lying on the sofa in the middle of the stage, staring up at the ceiling with apparently nothing to do but wait for time to pass. Joined later by another character, the two remain there as the audience enter, and are still there, utterly natural and clearly bored, even as the lights dim. The cast’s complete comfort with the stage continues throughout the play and creates an intimate atmosphere that keeps the audience engaged and enthusiastic throughout the whole of the short play.

The script follows a predictable line with comedic squabbles erupting between stock characters including an irritating young relative and a bumbling uncle, with moments descending into farce as characters are left devoid of items of clothing and attempting to hide from other characters. Despite the predictability, the characters are well developed and the comings and goings of the warring family are underpinned by the constant presence of Rebecca Cusack and Freya Mead, who hold the whole play together. Their close relationship is beautifully portrayed through their complete comfort in each other’s company and the range of complicit looks and sly smiles that they exchange. Whilst it is questionable as to why at one point they suddenly take opposite views on whether or not to open a cupboard that would reveal more than many would like, the characters are played as close allies against the rest of the family. Cusack in particular shines amongst the talented cast, completely convincing at every moment and continuously acting and reacting to the events around her without overshadowing the rest of the cast. Laura Waldren also stands out as she manages to combine desperation with comic lines, her eyes shimmering with unfallen tears at one moment and then a quip about Captain Scott rolling off her tongue the next.

Overall, the whole play is fluent and polished, but it is at its best when the whole group is bouncing off each other as the family tensions strain between them, for at these points the energy is high and the story is told through the perfectly timed lines and constant interaction between them. The comedy ranges from farcical events and eccentric characters to witty one-liners. As a result, there is humour for every type of person and the audience is left chuckling throughout. The quieter moments lack the dazzle of the group scenes, but the pace remains fast and there is no moment of boredom or awkwardness. Only when one actor enters and attempts to add energy to an otherwise quiet scene does it feel lopsided and cold, but the balance is swiftly restored as the other characters are provoked to respond to their irritating relatives.

Despite small plot holes, this short play is acted superbly and is directed so as to fill the small space without crowding the scene, creating a sense of intimacy that is perfect for the pre-wedding situations that the play follows. There is no great message for the audience to muse over as they leave, but Jitters provides an evening of laughter and fun that showcases some talented actors and reminds people that it is possible to go to the theatre simply to have a good time.

agree
disagree

Joseph Cooper

at 09:48 on 27th Nov 2013

0agrees

2disagrees

Jitters is more of a coal than an uncut diamond – it needs more pressure and heat to give it value. I felt that the plot was one suited to a play much longer, while the number of jokes would have suited a play much shorter; it was too absurd to be a drama and not funny enough to be a comedy.

The play did have its moments – Dorothy's off-stage chant, the wardrobe sequence, lines such as 'this wardrobe is a metaphor for my life' and Jack's fabulous exit at the play's conclusion – but for the most part, left me wanting something more. The production was certainly a valiant attempt, but it had little it make it stand out from the crowd. A cosy domesticity perforated the performance, which was pleasant, but led to the impression of a somewhat flat production, with a slightly less than pleasing amount of realism mixed uncomfortably with the comically absurd. Most of the jokes, unfortunately, went unappreciated by the audience leading to several awkward moments on the stage. There were also two instances when the actors had their backs to half the audience, a disappointing clumsiness in the staging.

What the play required, I think, is more energy; a failing in the script, I felt, more than the production, for, although the actors at many times gave it their all – the characters of Jack and Dorothy most of all seemed to allow for this – the casual sexism of the Granddad and discussion upon the meaning of Uncle Paul's artwork in particular did not work; such moments of potential comedy were stifled by the slow-paced domesticity of the piece. In short, the jokes were too few to get many laughs, and the plot too implausible to generate much sympathy for the characters. This resulted in me – although I could be alone in this – finding the 'serious' parts more amusing than the comic ones (which may have been the writer's intention, but no one else in the audience appeared to agree, so I suppressed my laughter).

The play was for the most part warm and chatty, with moments of pleasing hysteria, and other spells of mainly unsuccessful comedy. It is shame that is the case – the play seemed to almost do so many things; many of the jokes may well have looked good on paper, but lacked the charisma necessary to their success in the production. I did not feel the audience was involved in the performance; we were outside the room, and therefore finding it difficult to laugh, making only the best jokes seem worthy of appreciation. It was, nevertheless, a pleasant production, but not memorable – it needed to be braver, and a more intense experience for the audience, for my taste – it had too much 'kitchen sink' about it, not in itself a bad thing, but it did not mingle well with the absurd elements and highly apparent dramatic characters. I feel this is an early step on the road to something better.

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